Could Robots Do a Better Job at Border Control?

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The future of border control may soon be in the hands of robots.

French electrical systems company, Thales, unveiled last week at the Paris Air Show its new airport technologies which promise to replace immigration officers for faster identification of criminals through biometric data, with the added bonus of speeding up travelers’ passage through airports.

Think robots can do a better job than current border police, airport security and check-in agents? Based off the number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S., it’s questionable. Here’s how the proposed security system would work.

Passengers won’t have to deal with check-in desks anymore. Machines would scan passports and print boarding passes, but that’s standard in many airports already. What Thales is adding to the process is a camera which scans a passenger’s face and iris, and uses biometrics to confirm their identity.

These images would be shared with computers around the airport so that they’d already be in the system when a passenger arrives at the immigration desk, allowing for a robot to automatically confirm the person’s identity without the need for human border staff. The passenger’s face is also printed in encrypted form on the boarding pass so that it can be scanned at the gate for a final identity check. But you’ll need a human to do that.

So basically the robotic tellers would perform the duties of border police. That is, of course, if the machines actually perform the way they’re supposed to without malfunctioning.

Thales claims you’d only need one agent for every four or five machines, so ideally these systems would “free up staff for the police and create more space in the airport.”

It’s uncertain if this technology would ever be adopted (in the U.S. at least) but it does make you wonder. Do you think the technology would be effective?

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