The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is seeking to reduce human-to-human contact while increasing the thoroughness of screening procedures via the use of new surveillance devices such as body-scanning pods travelers will be closed up inside of, to advanced biometric technologies such as fingerprints, eyeball scans and facial recognition, all under the guise of speeding up the security screening process and reducing the risk of disease.
In a Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) press release dated Nov. 30 the federal agency revealed several technologies under development by their Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) Screening at Speed Program (SaS) which seek to further the surveillance and inspection of travelers, moving away from invasive pat-downs by Transportation Security Officers (TSO) to invasive machine-based searches and scans, while incorporating the current body scanner component into the new non-human systems.
“As you walk up, you don’t need to have a human say, ‘Come on in,’” Ha McNeill, a former TSA chief of staff who worked on research and development projects for the agency told The Post. “The e-gate opens and the machine screens your body. If there is something you have forgotten to divest—let’s say you forgot your car keys in your pocket—then the back gate doesn’t open. It tells you to go back and take it out of your pocket and then come back in.”
In late 2021, S&T awarded four contracts to three companies: Micro-X, Vanderlande Industries and Voxel Radar to create the traveler screening machines of the future. While the first body scanners rolled out in airports around 2007 used ionizing radiation, the ones used for the last decade utilize millimeter wave electromagnetic radiation, similar to 5G cellular systems.
“S&T is pushing the envelope to develop new technologies and concepts to enable the airport of the future,” S&T Under Secretary Dr. Dimitri Kusnezo said. “Self-service screening is a step toward building that future.”
The mechanisms to which this rapid screening of passengers and their belongings range from the Micro-X pod-based systems passengers will be required to go inside, to Voxel Radar’s system of sensors that will line walls to scan passengers while removing their belongings. Vanderlande’s system incorporates four stations within the checkpoint, each station will instruct the traveler on what to do as they are monitored for compliance via video cameras. The DHS press release states if a passenger who’s entered the ‘passenger portal’ machine did not remove an item from their pocket the entry door of the machine reopens so the passenger can remove the item before stepping back inside for re-screening. Once the machine is satisfied with what is likely a millimeter wave body scan, it will open the exit door and usher them out.
“We are very excited to see how far these capabilities have come in a relatively short amount of time,” Christina Peach, Branch Manager for the TSA ITF said. “The airport security experience that we’ve all come to know could soon look and feel a lot different…”
SaS anticipates their new non-human screening technologies will become feasible at various venues such as stadiums and mass transit facilities, just as Infowars predicted would happen in 2016.