Scanners for Liquid Bombs in Works
A new breed of three-dimensional X-ray machines capable of detecting liquid explosives represents the future of screening carry-on baggage at U.S. airports. The only question for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is whether it should begin purchasing the machines now at a cost of up to $200,000 apiece or wait a couple of years and purchase a significantly enhanced version of the machines at $400,000 apiece.
The TSA originally intended to wait and purchase the enhanced version, but TSA chief Kip Hawley says it may make sense from a security standpoint to begin purchasing the currently available 3-D machines.
The devices, known as multi-view X-ray machines, scan bags from multiple angles, creating 3-D images of the bag’s contents. The X-ray machines currently used at airports create images that make it more difficult to differentiate weapons from common items.
The 3-D machines have “an extraordinary ability to find” liquids, says Hawley, and a government report indicates that the machines could “significantly increase” security screeners’ ability to detect weapons. Furthermore, industry experts say that the 3-D machines should reduce the need for manual baggage searches, thereby speeding up airport security lines.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from USA Today (10/18/06) P. A1; Frank, Thomas .