Apex Screening at Speed

Apex Screening at Speed

Graphic rendition of airport check point in the future.The  Apex Screening at Speed (SaS) Program is pursuing transformative R&D activities that support a future vision for increasing security effectiveness while dramatically reducing wait times and improving the passenger experience.

TSA requires detection technologies that effectively and efficiently screen people for concealed explosive threats. Currently, as people move through checkpoints they must remove outerwear, footwear, belts and headwear, slowing the line and decreasing public acceptance. False alarms are frequent, causing inconvenient and intrusive pat-downs and searches. Apex SaS is developing technology that would enable the scanning of walking passengers, acquiring data through most garments and reliably detecting a wider range of prohibited items regardless of concealment.

TSA also requires detection technologies that effectively and efficiently screen carry-on bags and items for explosive threats. Present-day X-ray technologies require manual review and frequently stop the line for unnecessary alarms. Future systems that record and analyze a richer array of data from each bag would provide greater security while limiting the number of invasive, time-consuming false alarms, all without the need for today’s cumbersome restrictions on removing electronic devices, liquids, aerosols, and gels from the bag while it is scanned.

The Apex SaS Program will also integrate these screening tools with wide-area surveillance, airport risk assessment modeling, credential authentication, risk-based screening, and other technologies to further reduce the overall risk throughout an airport. As Apex SaS technologies enable the rapid screening of passengers and their belongings, it is anticipated that other operational uses, such as at special events and stadiums, and in mass transit, will become feasible.

Fact Sheet

Apex Screening at Speed Program Fact Sheet


S&T Prototype Shoe Scanner (2019)

360-degree Coverage: Providing Full Scene Situational Awareness (2019)

Second Annual Aviation Security Futures Workshop (2018)

News Release

DHS S&T Partners with James Madison University

Prize Competition

The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced the winners of the Passenger Screening Algorithm Challenge. The Prize Competition solicited new automated detection algorithms from individuals and entities that improve the speed, accuracy, and detection of small threat objects and other prohibited items during the airport passenger screening process.

Vision for the Future

The Aviation Checkpoint of the Future will be fully capable of efficiently detecting threats to aviation security while minimizing the inconvenience to passengers. S&T envisions a future where passengers approach the checkpoint and place their carry-on items on a conveyer belt leading to an enhanced x-ray device with automatic threat recognition software. Passengers walk through a screening portal without having to take off their shoes or coats or remove their laptops and liquids from their bags. If the screening portal identifies a potential threat on a passenger or with a carry-on item, a non-invasive, secondary inspection may be required.

Transportation security officers at the checkpoint will spend less time searching complicated images and more time observing and assisting passengers and resolving alarms identified by automatic threat recognition software. 

This new system will strengthen security, expedite passenger and carry-on baggage screening, and provide a more comfortable and convenient travel experience for passengers.

For further information please contact us at: BCPS_STMCS@hq.dhs.gov 

Apex Screening at Speed – Program Vision: Apex Screening at Speed is pursuing transformative R&D activities that support a future vision for increasing security effectiveness from curb to gate while dramatically reducing wait times and improving the passenger experience. Passenger Screening: Walk-through Millimeter Wave, Shoe Scanner, Passenger Screening Algorithm Challenge. Carry-On Screening: Computed Tomography, Phase Contrast Imaging (X-Ray Light, Grating Diffraction), Adaptive Threat Detection Algorithms (Input Layer, Hidden Layer 1, Hidden Layer 2, Output Layer). Future Capabilities: Tunable IR Lasers, Standoff Explosives Detection. Passenger Analysis: Video Analytics, Risk-based Screening. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate. To learn more about Apex SaS, contact SandT.Explosives@hq.dhs.gov, or visit https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/apex-screening-speed

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