AI Might Mean We Can Take Liquids On Planes Again

By Holly Brockwell on at

The elaborate song-and-dance that is trying to get through security at the airport may soon be a hilarious memory, if the latest innovations being shown off in London catch on.

The government's Future Aviation Security Solutions (FASS) showcase (it should have been Security Tech, then it'd be FAST, 'cause it helps you get through faster... but hey) is part of a £25.5m scheme running over five years to try and find better ways to stop terrorists. Which means the rest of us might be able to go about our lives while embarking on the third business trip this month.

The good guys at Durham University have come up with an AI-based system that learns what normal images from the airport's X-ray machines look like, then flag up anything that looks a bit shonky. For instance, the AI could be trained on images of normal smartphones, then it can identify when one seems to have been modified or contains something it shouldn't.

Similarly, it'll know what a normal beverage bottle looks like, so you'll be fine to take one in your carry-on bag or your pocket. No more surrendering your Irn Bru at security.

Meanwhile, a shoe scanner called Scanna can analyse what's in people's shoes from a few seconds of them standing on its electrode-filled pad, which means people's shoes could be scanned while they stand in the security queue. Then no one would have to smell each other's feet when everyone takes their manky trainers off.

We might not even have to take our coats off or empty our pockets if Sequestim's product goes mainstream: it's an AI-powered millimetre-wave scanner that lets you go through with all your layers on and stuff still in your jeans. It can still tell if you're carrying anything dodgy, even from 25 feet away.

Rob Spurrett, MD of Sequestim told the BBC:

"It won't eliminate the need for a pat down, but will speed up the process by reducing the number of trays going through the scanners."

Fix Ryanair next, please.

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash