Checkpoint technology for frictionless airport screening
Today's security protocols are efficient and adequate, but there's room for improvement when it comes to delivering a frictionless passenger experience.
To make the process of going through a checkpoint smoother while ensuring safety, Leidos is helping to shape the continuing evolution of checkpoint screening technologies with artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms.
The current checkpoint experience
Let's go through a typical passenger flight experience, starting with the security checks. Passengers:
- Take off shoes (and belt).
- Remove miscellaneous items from pockets.
- Take out electronic equipment from carry-on bags.
- Take out liquids.
- Transfer items to bins on a conveyor belt.
- Walk through a screening device for a body scan.
- Are submitted to a pat-down if the security agent notices something amiss.
Meanwhile your carry-on gets moved along to be inspected. If anything suspicious shows up, agents swab any surface they are concerned about for chemical analysis. There are many points of friction or contact that make the process uncomfortable:
- You are not sure how long the security process is going to take.
- If you forget to remove a quarter from your pocket, you have to walk through the scanning machine again.
- Pat-downs are frustrating and embarrassing — and in the age of COVID-19 — potentially dangerous.
- You get separated from your carry-on electronics and worry about losing a valuable at the end of the process.
Technology for frictionless checkpoint experiences
Advanced checkpoint screening technologies from Leidos deliver frictionless and comfortable passengers experiences without compromising security. Machines in operation today at airports are much improved compared to older iterations. For example, ClearScan, a checkpoint CT system, delivers sharp 3-D images that allow machine learning algorithms to more precisely distinguish between worrisome objects (like guns) and safe ones. Earlier scanning techniques were two-dimensional, which meant operators needed to parse what they were seeing on-screen. With machine learning algorithms handling the grunt work, there's less pressure on human agents to constantly be alert.
Similarly, body scanners, which became more ubiquitous after the so-called underwear bomber, initially raised understandable concerns about privacy. But our ProVision body scanner uses machine learning algorithms exclusively, which means human eyes don't evaluate the images, ensuring privacy. The algorithms are also able to tell when change is inadvertently left in pant pockets, decreasing the need for pat-downs.
Leidos checkpoint technology includes:
- ClearScan, which examines cabin baggage for explosives and other hazards, delivers a very low rate of false alarms. As a result, liquids and electronics can be kept in bags, making the process more frictionless for passengers.
- The ProVision body scanner checks for passengers carrying potentially dangerous equipment while ensuring privacy. Because the rate of false positives is low, most passengers can keep moving along.
- If the body scanner flags suspicious materials, hand-held and desktop devices — such as our explosives trace detection (ETD) unit — can detect explosives and illegal drugs in real time.
- ProPassage, an automated tray handling system, sanitizes used bins and sends them back to the point of use. This reduces the need for agents to run around corralling stray bins in the area.
The future checkpoint experience
In the near term, checkpoint screening through machine learning algorithms is going to get better as it's trained to detect guns, knives and other weapons. Body scans are progressing toward becoming walk-through rather than stop-and-scan.
Leidos is also working on technology that will enhance the process of chemical screening, making it more sensitive to trace vapors, a sniffer that can detect traces on scanning conveyor belts.
Passengers can help make the process more seamless by downloading the boarding pass at home or agreeing to the use of biometric data. Passengers can also get an estimate of how long it may take to clear security with our scenario-planning solution, which tracks live traffic and how busy checkpoint areas are.
The COVID-19 pandemic might have strengthened the case for touchless, frictionless checkpoint screening technology, but such systems were already in the works. Leidos expects to continue to pave the way for airport security that is leaner, faster and more accurate.