Analogic [ALOG] has received a contract from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to further develop and complete work on an advanced prototype of the company’s new OnGuard DualUse computed tomography system designed to screen checked and carry-on bags at small and medium-size airports.

For checked baggage the system would work just as current Explosive Detection Systems do, that is automatically alert for potential explosive threats, Mark Namaroff, director of Strategic Marketing and Investor Relations at Analogic, tells TR2. For the scanning of carry-on bags, an operator would easily, and quickly, reconfigure the software so that the system can automatically detect metal objects but not explosives, he says.

Analogic has been developing the system, which is an enhanced version of its existing Cobra explosives detection system (EDS) that was developed for checkpoint security, using internal research and development funding. The Cobra system has been renamed OnGuard Cobra.

TSA says the work on the DualUse system is being funded under an existing contract with Analogic.

At one time TSA appeared to favor deploying the modified CT-based EDS systems to do automated screening of carry-on bags at checkpoints, but the agency ultimately decided not to go this route and instead opted for more advanced X-Ray systems. Still, Cobra systems are installed at over a half-dozen regional airports throughout the country.

Analogic expects to deliver an OnGuard DualUse system by the end of October for TSA to evaluate. Namaroff doesn’t know the test plans but he expects a rigorous evaluation.

The OnGuard DualUse system was developed based on input from the nation’s airports, Namaroff says. Small and medium-size airports want a flexible machine, he says. With a system that can scan both carry-on and checked baggage, these airports could get by with just one machine instead of two, which would also lower the manpower requirements for operating them, he adds. So there are cost benefits from an operations and labor standpoint, he says.

In checkpoint mode the new system will be able to scan up to 450 bags per hour and process more than 250 passengers per hour, Analogic says. OnGuard DualUse will be able to scan up to 350 checked bags per hour, the company adds.

Analogic also says it has developed the capability for the system to detect liquid explosives for use in the checkpoint mode.

“We have also developed the capability to detect liquid explosives, giving passengers the added convenience of leaving liquids in their bags,” says Peter Cempellin, vice president and general manager of Analogic’s Security Systems Division.

Analogic declined to say the value of the TSA award but says the fact that the agency is investing demonstrates its interest in the system.

The OnGuard DualUse system features automated detection capabilities not just for explosives but also for weapons. The system marks the suspected threat area. It also prints a barcode that is affixed to the bag. This allows a screener to remove the bag from the line and scan it using a barcode scanner, producing an image on a separate screen for possible resolution without having to open the bag, Namaroff says. The image can also be rotated in three-dimensions.

While the system could be integrated inline, Namaroff says it is more likely to be used in a standalone configuration to take advantage of the checkpoint and checked baggage modes. While operations would be up to TSA, he says it’s more than likely the system would be used to first scan one type of luggage, say carry-on bags, and then switched over to scan the other baggage.