The Stack Archive

Robots to replace immigration officers at border control

Fri 19 Jun 2015

Airport immigration officers could soon be a thing of the past should electrical systems firm Thales have anything to do with it. The French company unveiled its new robotics technology at the Paris Air Show this week, which promises a faster check-in solution which can identify criminals using biometric data.

The innovative technology includes a check-in machine used to scan a traveller’s passport and print off their boarding pass. It also records a photographic image of the passenger’s face and iris, which it then shares with other computers on the airport’s network.

The facial images are already stored on the airport system when the individual arrives at Immigration, where they are greeted by a tall, white robot which can automatically verify the person’s identity without the need for a human immigration officer.

“You would only need one agent for every four or five machines,” suggested Thales manager Pascal Zenoni who presented the technology at the Air Show. “These systems can free up staff for the police and create more space in the airport,” he added.

The image of the passenger’s face is also copied in an encrypted format onto their boarding pass, so that it can be scanned by staff members at the gate as final confirmation.

Thales operates in 25 countries developing biometric technology for use in national passports and ID cards.

Rival bio-analytics group Safran has recently announced its new system for managing the amount of sensitive passenger data collected at airports. The technology, developed by its subsidiary Morpho, will begin testing in France this September and is expected to collect data from over 100 million travellers from around 230 airlines every year.

The system will scan these records and provide flag alerts for data that matches a set of over 300 behavioural warnings. It will also corroborate with Interpol and other police records, constantly scanning for new information on terrorists and those involved in organised crime.

Luc Tombal of Morpho’s border control business explained the particular importance of using adaptive systems in airports: “You are always in a race between the people operating the system and people trying to cheat it.”


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