New Baggage Scanners May Someday Let You Bring Liquids Through Airport Security

Image courtesy of Rick Drew

The Transportation Security Administration may be testing new ways to get travelers through security checkpoints more quickly and efficiently by having them remove additional items from their carry-on bags, but the companies that make these devices have developed technology that could eventually save you from having to take out your laptop at the checkpoint or guzzle that bottle of water before you’re forced to throw it out.

Bloomberg reports that at least four companies that make machines used to screen bags at airports are working on new technology that would be able to better detect explosives and ease new security measures such the international laptop ban.

The machines, one of which has passed initial testing in the U.S., differ from the baggage scanners commonly used at airports in that it utilizes computed tomography — or CT — scan technology to create high-definition, three-dimensional views of luggage.

This technology can provide a clearer look into a bag, calculating the densities of objects. This, Bloomberg notes, can allow even small amounts of explosives to be uncovered. Similar machines are already at work in airports, used for the screening of checked luggage.

“CT technology has the potential to significantly improve security as well as the checkpoint experience for travelers,” TSA spokesman Michael England tells Bloomberg. “However, while this technology has shown promise, more testing is needed before it can be rolled out nationwide.”

To do that testing, TSA plans to place two machines at different airports this year to see how they function in actual security lines.

But even if the machines work, they likely won’t be showing up in your local airport anytime soon. With a price tag of hundreds of thousands of dollars per unit, the government would have to spend billions of dollars to place the machines at all U.S. airports, Bloomberg reports.

Still, when the new machines are placed in airports, the manufacturers believe they will enable passengers to keep liquids and electronics inside bags. This would reduce the time spent in security lines as customers wouldn’t have to dig through belongings to remove the items for individual scans.

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