A new type of highly sensitive airport scanner is to be trialled at Cardiff Airport, with researchers claiming it has the potential to rapidly reduce security waiting times.
The walk-through scanner uses sensors originally designed to detect astronomical activity in deep space, but now uses the human body as a source of light to spot hidden objects.
Those objects show up as shadows against the body and its heat signal, with the system also able to learn the difference between everyday items such as mobile phones, and others which are prohibited on flights.
Scientists from Cardiff University and QMC Instruments said the new scanner, which will be trialled privately by invitation only at Cardiff Airport between December 4 and 7, would also no longer require passengers to remove jackets or items from their pockets at security.
Ken Wood, sales and marketing director of Sequestim, the joint venture between the university and QMC Instruments, said: “Passenger numbers are expected to double in 20 years, putting airport security facilities under immense pressure.
“Our scanner combines a number of world-leading technologies developed by our team here in the UK. It uses the human body as a source of ‘light’, in contrast with existing scanners which process reflected and scattered millimetre-waves while the passenger is required to strike a pose.
“Our system only needs a few seconds to do its work. Passengers walking normally through security would no longer need to take off coats and jackets, or remove personal items such as phones.”
The project is one of eight to have received funding from £1.8 million made available by the Government through a defence and security accelerator competition.
Aviation minister Liz Sugg said: “We have a proud history of innovation here in the UK and passenger safety across all modes of transport remains an important priority for the Government.
“The Future Aviation Security Solutions programme demonstrates our support for pioneering projects that can help to reduce security threats in airports.
“I am pleased to see that the funding awarded to Sequestim has helped the team take space technology and trial it as part of a new passenger screening system at Cardiff Airport.”