Microwave Camera for Detecting Hidden Objects

Airport security

Microwave Camera for Detecting Hidden Objects

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The Challenge

Our client, the Department for Transport (DfT), awarded Plextek with the Transport Technology Research and Innovation Grant (T-TRIG) to conduct a research study into the improvement of aviation security and screening procedures at airport checkpoints.

Objects concealed on a person or in luggage remain a threat in all public places but especially in airports. Methods currently used to image people and hand luggage, such as x-ray and terahertz systems, typically require subjects to be stationary and cooperative.

This leaves a wide range of trade-offs including equipment cost, measurement speed, screening safety and passenger congestion and discrimination.

The Approach

Plextek proposed a Microwave Camera, capable of real-time detection imaging of hidden objects, with a non-intrusive implementation approach.

Microwaves, due to the low frequency, are intrinsically safe to pass through the body and can characterise and discriminate a range of materials, including explosive devices and weapons.

A parabolic reflector enables a system of significantly lower cost compared to existing large-area sensing arrays. Technical modelling and analysis were then implemented to calibrate the reflector to receive real-time imaging. Capable of imaging people at 2-4 metre distances, this architecture can allow the scanning of people walking towards it in a ‘free flow’ passenger channel.

The Outcome

Our solution provides a safe, low cost, a fast alternative technology that had to be less intrusive and time-consuming than the current system.

Our solution uses lower frequencies and channels passengers through a corridor, allowing them to walk freely while being scanned by the microwave camera. We think this will reduce error ratings and ease passenger flow.

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