Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Thursday began a technical demonstration of facial recognition technology aimed at travelers entering and departing the U.S. in vehicles.

The evaluation, which could last up to a year, is deployed at the Anzalduas International Bridge Port of Entry in Texas at two entry lanes and two departure lanes that are marked so that drivers have the option to opt in or out of the testing.

Hidalgo Port Director Carlos Rodriguez inaugurates facial comparison testing at Anzalduas International Bridge. Photo: CBP
Hidalgo Port Director Carlos Rodriguez inaugurates facial comparison testing at Anzalduas International Bridge. Photo: CBP

“This technical demonstration will help inform the agency on next steps to developing and implementing biometric entry/exit in the land border vehicular environment,” David Higgerson, director of Field Operations at CBP’s Laredo, Texas, Field Office, said in a statement. “Similar to how this technology has had negligible impact on traffic flow in the air environment, we anticipate minimal impact in the vehicular environment as images will be taken ‘at speed’ as the vehicle is moving.”

The testing is part of CBP’s continued rollout of facial recognition technology for travelers entering and exiting the U.S. using different means. The technology continues to be evaluated at a number of airports for international entry and exit and two airports—Orlando International in Florida and Mineta San Jose International in California—have committed to full deployments for travelers on inbound and outbound international flights.

The Anzalduas demonstration coincides with a new biometric pedestrian travel evaluation using facial recognition for individuals on the move as they enter the processing station from Mexico into the Nogales, Ariz., port of entry. In the pedestrian trial, individuals’ photos captured by camera initially are being compared to the electronic photo stored on their travel documents for a one-to-one match. Next year, CBP plans transition the pedestrian demonstration to one where the captured photo upon entry serves as the identity check so individuals don’t necessarily have to present a travel document.

For the vehicle demonstration, all occupants will have their photos taken. CBP said part of the testing will allow it to evaluate the ability to automatically capture quality facial images and biometric accuracy of the images. The results will be used to inform future deployments.

CBP said the facial images captured in the vehicle tests won’t be held permanently or “shared with any party or system.”