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The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is deep into upgrading its systems to make the process of getting through the airport and the screening process as safe and seamless as possible.
Here's the latest on the new devices and procedures being deployed, and what to expect next.
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CT scanning of luggage
Next time you put your bags through the airport scanner, the device may be similar to hospital CT scans (formerly CAT scans) invented for medical imaging. The TSA has installed 320 of these improved Computed Tomography scanners at airports around the country. They provide color-coded, rotating 3D scans, giving more accurate pictures than the old school X-ray machines — and, the TSA hopes, speed the screening process by reducing the need for physical searches.
To help these scanning systems get even smarter, TSA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are working with private sector partners on developing machine-learning software programs that will be able to analyze the result of CT scans faster and more accurately than humans, says Dan Tanciar, the chief innovation officer with the Pangiam technology company, which is helping to develop this Aggregated Threat Detection technology with Google’s artificial intelligence group.
The program will constantly update its own algorithm (the “learning” of the machine) to reflect the confirmation or denial of its analysis after a targeted bag is physically inspected. Dubbed Project Dartmouth, the tech is expected to be tested in airports soon.
New body scans
Similarly, the TSA is working with partners to develop new High Definition Advanced Imaging Technology (HD-AIT) systems to more efficiently and accurately scan passengers. These systems are designed to be improvements upon the machines you currently see, where you stand with your hands over your head while your whole body is scanned.