Portugal’s Vision-Box is participating in at least two biometric exit pilots being rolled out by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and airlines at different airports this summer, part of the agency’s efforts to deploy face-recognition technology to track the departures of foreign nationals leaving the U.S. by air.
Delta Airlines [DAL] is testing eGates at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Atlanta Hartsfield with Vision-Box responsible for integrating the exit systems that are testing to assure each departing traveler’s identity suing facial recognition technology and Delta’s ticketing information in an automated solution.
In the tests cameras capture each passenger’s face as they enter the eGate and self-scan their boarding pass. If the screening is successful, the gate automatically opens and the traveler heads toward the jetway to board the flight. The customer data is securely managed by CBP.
CBP has said it will roll out its biometric exit pilots to eight or nine airports this year, including Atlanta, where the agency has been conducting a more limited facial recognition test for the past year. The Atlanta pilot, combined with testing of different biometrics technologies at two other airports and a land port, led the agency to settle on face recognition as its primary biometric for recording the departure of travelers from U.S. airports on international flights.
CBP plans to eventually replace fingerprint checks for arriving foreign nationals in favor of using face recognition systems to verify that the persons are the same as those that applied for and received their visas overseas. Biometric entry and exit checks of foreign nationals are mandated by Congress. The exit checks have been problematic but now CBP believes it has the right technology and operating concept—deploying the systems at the boarding gates—is moving toward more robust rollouts by the end of 2018.
In addition to Atlanta and JFK, CBP has deployed exit pilots to Washington Dulles International Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. CBP didn’t respond to queries about who is the technology integrator for the pilot at Dulles.
NEC Corp. is providing its Express camera sensor hardware and facial recognition algorithms for all of CBP’s biometric exit tests. The matching software in the backend is in the cloud, one feature of the new pilots that wasn’t part of the original testing in Atlanta. CBP is using Amazon Web Services as its cloud services provider. Japan-based NEC’s U.S. operations are working with CBP on the pilot.
“We are excited to partner with Delta to provide an innovative self-boarding eGate system that combines airline boarding and biometric exit capture capabilities in a single process,” says Miguel Leitmann, CEO of Vision-Box. “Passenger experience, high biometric accuracy and personal data protection are among the key metrics the pilot is addressing in order to establish a foundation to scale up to other airports.”
Separate from the biometric exit pilots, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun testing biometric technology in a proof of concept demonstration at the head of a PreCheck trusted traveler lane at Denver International Airport. TSA is using fingerprint technology supplied by Advanced Optical Solutions in the test, which is voluntary for PreCheck members.
The system allows a passenger’s fingerprints, obtained live via a speedy hand-wave application, to be used as both a boarding pass and identity document. The technology is used to match the live fingerprints against those provided by travellers when they enrolled in PreCheck.
Eventually, TSA says it plans to test face recognition technology at a checkpoint, which would match up with CBP’s operating concept of the particular biometric technology.