TSA Reportedly Will Begin Testing Long-Distance Body Scanners

Nov 5, 2018

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The Transportation Security Administration has reportedly approved a program to test a device that would scan multiple air passengers for explosives or other weapons from a distance of up to 25 feet away in airports.

The device, known as a “passive terahertz” screening, has previously been tested at select train stations in the US. The clunky 50-pound, computer-like device screens passengers’ outlines and reveals any concealed weapons or explosive devices that could be hidden beneath flyers’ clothing. The TSA hopes the new technology will help alleviate increasingly crowded airport security checkpoints as more and more travelers take to the skies every year, the LA Times reports.

The TSA first began testing this new security measure in the Los Angeles transit system in 2017. Following an attempted terror attack in December 2017 where a man detonated a pipe bomb in a Manhattan subway station, New York Senator Chuck Schumer strongly urged TSA to consider implementing the technology in New York City. So, the screening device was tested at New York’s Penn Station.

This summer, the LA transit system confirmed it would be the first city in the country to use the body scanners full-time after the test period was deemed successful.

The device operates a thermal-imaging system and uses an individual’s “naturally-occurring emissions from the human body” as well as radio waves to detect hidden weapons. If a weapon is detected, the scanner sets off an alarm on the equipment operator’s laptop. Each scanner can process up to 2,000 passengers per hour.

If the scanners pass the TSA’s initial airport test phase, they could be used on a trial basis at additional US airports, Kevin Gramer, vice president of Thruvision Americas, which builds the devices, told the LA Times.

TPG reached out to the TSA for more information on the body scanner tests but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Featured image by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images.

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