New 3D Scanner Tested at St. Louis Lambert Airport

System creates image that can be viewed from various angles, expected to speed up wait times.

Brett Blume
August 14, 2018 - 12:31 pm

(KMOX/Brett Blume)


ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - A new state-of-the-art advanced technology computer topography (CT) checkpoint scanner is being tested at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

TSA regional spokesperson Mark Howell says it acts much in the way that a CT scanner does at the hospital.

"As you come through it's going to run that image," he explained for reporters Tuesday. "It's going to put the algorithms to it and it's going to say, 'Hey, we need you to take a look at this, this and this in the bag.' It's going to put a little box around it, and we're going to take a look at those items."

He adds that the equipment is similar to what is used to scan checked baggage for explosive devices, and has been "sized" to fit at checkpoints.

It will create a clear enough image of a bag's contents that the system can automatically detect explosives, including liquids, by shooting hundreds of images with an X-ray camera spinning around the conveyor belt to provide TSA officers with a three-dimensional view of the contents of carry-on luggage.

(KMOX/Brett Blume)

Howell says it has a great potential to speed things up for passengers waiting to board their plane.

"You don't have to take your liquids and your electronics out," Howell says. "Really the only thing you need to do is take your shoes off and remove everything from your pockets."

He adds that CT checkpoint technology should result in fewer bag checks, as well.

TSA plans to have up to 40 units in place in airports across the country by the end of this year, along with 16 units at federal testing facilities.

More than 145 of them are expected to be in airports by the end of fiscal 2019.

Howell says passenger reaction to the new system has been "mixed."

"It's brand new," he says. "As we introduce something new, obviously, it takes a little while for people to get used to. We saw that with our automated screening lanes when we started to roll those out last year. So there is a little bit of a 'burn-in' period, but as people get used to this they're going to like it."