Technology

New 3D Scanner Will Change The Way Your Bags Are Scanned At Airports

Airport 3D Scanner Security
Image Source: American Airlines Newsroom (screenshot)

Airport security checks are extremely important. They are necessary, but they are time-consuming and painfully annoying. There are restrictions on what you can and can’t take onto an airplane. At airports, it seems like everyone around you is frantically removing iPads, notebooks, toiletries, and other stuff to go through the security check. The Transport Security Administration (TSA) is bringing a new 3D scanner to simplify and speed up the process without compromising on security.

New 3D scanner to replace X-ray scanners

American Airlines announced that it had joined hands with the TSA to test the new 3D scanner at Terminal 8 security checkpoint at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Made by Analogic Corporation, the 3D scanner allows security staff to see objects from all angles inside people’s bags. It means travelers will no longer have to remove all the stuff from their bags.

The new 3D scanner will replace the aging X-ray scanners. Some explosives can get by the older X-ray machines, but the new scanning technology can spot them. TSA currently requires travelers to take out all the devices larger than smartphones as well as food items, liquid, and powders. Analogic’s 3D scanner uses the same technology as CT scans used in the hospital.

The 3D scanner can see through the cluttered carry-on bags and allow security staff to zoom in and rotate the bags to give them a 360-degree view to detect potential threats. It will eliminate the need for travelers to remove items from their bags. The scanners cost nearly $300,000 per unit. American Airlines said it had donated eight units to TSA, one of which is being installed at JFK.

TSA plans to deploy the new scanner at all airports

The first scanner at JFK will be deployed by the end of July. The TSA said it was planning to have 15 scanners installed at different airports by the end of 2018. It is authorized to purchase another 240 scanners in 2019. If TSA wants to install the new scanner at all airports across the United States, it will need approximately 2,000 of them. It will probably take them years to fully replace the outdated X-ray scanners.

The TSA is also testing the new scanners in Boston and Phoenix. They found that it significantly speeds up the screening process. TSA administrator David Pekoske told CBS News that the new scanner would allow travelers to leave liquids, gels, aerosols, iPads, and laptops in their bags.

In about five years, people will not have to take anything out of their bags, predicts Pekoske. He added that the new 3D scanner was capable of “detecting a wider range of explosives, which is very important.” People will essentially get “better security faster.” American Airlines security chief Jose Freig described it as “a new era.”

The British Department for Transport is also testing similar scanners at the Heathrow Airport in London. The Department for Transport reiterated that the rules will remain the same for now. It means passengers should be prepared to remove items from their bags “if requested during the screening purposes.”

The airport security badly needs an upgrade, and the new 3D scanner could be the beginning of the process.