Ro­bot bor­der guards among tech at Paris Air Show


New air­port tech­nolo­gies un­veiled at the Paris Air Show this week prom­ise robots re­plac­ing immigration of­fi­cers and much faster iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of crim­i­nals through their bio­met­ric data.

French elec­tri­cal sys­tems com­pany Thales pre­miered its new equip­ment de­signed to speed up pas­sage through air­ports.

In their vi­sion of the fu­ture, pas­sen­gers will no longer deal with check-in desks — an in­no­va­tion al­ready mak­ing in­roads in many air­ports.

To take that even fur­ther, Thales has de­signed a ma­chine that not only scans pass­ports and prints board­ing passes, but also records an im­age of the pas­sen­ger’s face and iris, which are then shared with com­put­ers around the air­port.

The im­ages are al­ready in the sys­tem when the pas­sen­ger ar­rives at the immigration desk, al­low­ing a tall, white ro­bot to au­to­mat­i­cally con­firm the per­son’s iden­tity with­out the need for hu­man bor­der staff.

“You would only need one agent for ev­ery four or five ma­chines,” said Pas­cal Zenoni, a Thales man­ager pre­sent­ing the equip­ment at the air show.

“These sys­tems can free up staff for the po­lice and cre­ate more space in the air­port,” he added.

The pas­sen­ger’s face is also printed in en­crypted form on the board­ing pass so that it can be scanned by staff at the gate for a fi­nal iden­tity check.

Thales hopes to build on its ex­per­tise as the maker of bio­met­ric pass­ports and ID cards for 25 coun­tries, in­clud­ing France.

Mean­while, in another air show stand, com­peti­tors Safran dis­cussed their new sys­tems for cop­ing with the gi­ant amount of data be­ing col­lected on pas­sen­gers.

Their new an­a­lyt­i­cal sys­tem from sub­sidiary Mor­pho, which be­gins live test­ing in France in Septem­ber, is ex­pected to gather data on more than 100 mil­lion pas­sen­gers from up to 230 air­lines per year.

It sifts through the records, check­ing against over 300 be­hav­ioral “warn­ing signs” — sig­nals the com­pany is loathe to dis­cuss in de­tail.

It also checks it against In­ter­pol and other po­lice records, search- ing pri­mar­ily for ter­ror­ists and or­ga­nized crim­i­nals.

Mor­pho is a world leader in crim­i­nal iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, run­ning bio­met­ric sys­tems for the FBI and other clients.

Although sim­i­lar sys­tems al­ready ex­ist at air­ports in the United States, Safran says cur­rent com­peti­tors throw up too many er­rant warn­ings, and can take months to al­ter.

“Our pri­or­ity has al­ways been to re­duce the num­ber of false alarms,” said Sa­muel Fringant, from Mor­pho’s Se­cu­rity Di­vi­sion. “Our sys­tem adapts con­stantly from the in­for­ma­tion it re­ceives.”

“That is nec­es­sary be­cause you are al­ways in a race be­tween the peo­ple op­er­at­ing the sys­tem and peo­ple try­ing to cheat it,” added Luc Tom­bal, from the com­pany’s bor­der con­trol busi­ness unit.

As well as France, the com­pany is ex­pected to fi­nal­ize a deal in the com­ing months to pro­vide the sys­tem to Es­to­nia.

The Paris Air Show is the world’s top show­case for the aerospace in­dus­try, ex­pected bring to­gether over 2,000 ex­hibitors and 300,000 visi­tors as it runs through Sun­day.

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