Amsterdam Schiphol is trialling next-gen AI technology to check passengers’ bags

Mar 14, 2023

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The robots are coming… and they want to see inside your luggage.

Amsterdam Schiphol airport (AMS) is trialling a state-of-the-art technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to check passengers’ bags in a scheme that could one day replace old-fashioned human security guards.

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The Dutch hub — which has come under fire in recent months for its failure to get a handle on long security queues — has joined forces with security-tech firm Pangiam to investigate ways of screening hand baggage more quickly and safely.

The collaboration is the latest phase in Pangiam’s “Project DARTMOUTH“, a joint-venture with Google Cloud to bring artificial intelligence and big-data analytics into the airport security sphere.

The technology uses “AI and pattern analysis to … identify potential prohibited items in carry-on baggage”. PANGIAM.COM

According to Pangiam, Project DARTMOUTH uses “AI and pattern analysis technologies to digest and analyze vast amounts of data in real-time and identify potential prohibited items in carry-on baggage, checked baggage, airline cargo and shipments.”

Pangiam, which also sells facial-recognition technology to governments, says the technology will allow “powerful data mining and aggregation of data to identify threats not previously detectable to individual security officers.”

Related: Amsterdam Schiphol to extend passenger cap this May due to staff shortages

However, Schiphol airport insisted the aim was not to replace human security guards completely, rather to “support” them in speeding up the security process.

“We are fully committed to recruiting security colleagues and have been increasing the productivity of our security equipment recently, of course without compromising on the quality of security,” said Shiphol’s security chief Philip van Noort. “In the future, this collaboration can contribute to more comfort for travellers thanks to secure and faster hand baggage screening.”

The news may come as a relief to regular users of the airport, where enormous queues have continued to wreak havoc since last year. RAMON VAN FLYMEN/ANP/AFP via GETTY IMAGES.

Alexis Long, Head of Project DARTMOUTH at Pangiam, added: “This collaboration allows us to bring the benefits of artificial intelligence to the security checkpoint and improve the process.”

The trial makes Schiphol the first airport in Europe to support Project DARTMOUTH, and said it will be testing its technology on a small scale at first. Then, if it proves successful, it will implement it at scale.

It comes nine months after Schiphol became the first airport in Europe to replace its ageing X-ray machines with CT scanners. The sophisticated next-generation scanners allow security staff to zoom in on items inside travellers’ luggage and rotate the images for close inspection.

But Pangiam says its technology can be fed seamlessly into any existing hardware and equipment, including CT scanners.

The news may relieve regular users of The Netherlands’ busiest airport, where enormous queues, including security lines snaking outside, ongoing staffing struggles, and other operational issues have continued to wreak havoc since last year.

It is one of the last major airports in Europe to still have a cap on the number of passengers allowed through its gates after the surge in post-pandemic travel demand wreaked havoc on operations last year.


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