As the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) grapples with the return of air travel to pre-pandemic levels, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is rolling out a self-service screening option.
The PAX MX2 self-screening system will be available to TSA PreCheck customers traveling through Las Vegas Airport starting in January. (Image: Vanderland Industries)
The Screening at Speed Program, developed by the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), will make its national debut in January at Harry Reid Airport in Las Vegas.
The airport security experience that we’ve all come to know could soon look and feel a lot different — in a very good way — for both passengers and TSOs,” Christina Peach, branch manager for the TSA’s Innovation Task Force, promised in a DHS press release.
Of course, only customers in the TSA’s Trusted Traveler Program, including TSA PreCheck, will try it first.
Exercising Self Control
The new tech will allow Trusted Traveler passengers to move through TSA screening “at their own pace” while minimizing in-person contact between officers and passengers, according to the press release.
Similar to the existing TSA procedure, passengers will place their bags on a conveyor belt. However, they will be helped along by a video monitor giving them detailed instructions and a help button connecting to a live security agent.
Passengers will then walk through a screening portal with automatic entry and exit doors, which will not open until the screening process clears the passenger.
In the DHS press release, program manager John Fortune said it will be “like self-ordering kiosks at fast food and sit-down restaurants.”
In 2021, S&T awarded four contracts to three companies. According to the press release, Las Vegas visitors will be the guinea pigs for the PAX MX2 prototype, made by Vanderlande Industries Inc. of Marietta, Ga.
While the press release touts that the tech for “reducing the number of pat-downs and bag inspections” that TSA officers must conduct, it’s also possible that the automation will induce a reduction in TSA staff, with each remaining officer doing the same amount of work or more.
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