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3D-scanning tech at airports could mean the end of strict liquid limits

3D-scanning tech at airports could mean the end of strict liquid limits
[Photo: LadyDisdain/Pixabay]

Thanks to technology, you may soon be able to fly with a full-sized bottle of your favorite shampoo again. New 3D-scanning technology, which is currently getting a trial run at London’s Heathrow Airport, could mean the end of the strict rules on carrying liquids onto planes.

The computed tomography (CT) scanners, which are similar to the ones used by hospitals, produce a detailed three-dimensional X-ray image of what’s inside a passenger’s luggage, without the need to store liquids in a little plastic bag or put laptops in a separate bin. During the trial, which The Guardian reports will last between six and 12 months, some passengers will not have to remove their laptops or the small baggies of vodka, rum, and whiskey (or you know, shampoo, sunblock, and toothpaste) from their luggage.

Eventually, this new technology could lead to the removal of the 3 oz liquid limit, which has been in place since around 2006, when a failed bomb plot involving liquids prompted the ban. Many in the aviation industry say the ban is no longer necessary, but improved scanning technology like this could ease the minds of security experts.

It’s not just Heathrow. Amsterdam’s busy Schipol Airport tested similar technology, and a pilot program was put into place by American Airlines and the TSA at New York’s JFK Airport last year.

The  3D scanner takes hundreds of images with an X-ray camera that “spins around the conveyor belt to provide officers with a picture of a carry-on bag.” While the system is designed to detect explosives, firearms, and the other banned carry-on items that show up on the TSA’s always-entertaining Instagram feed, it also makes it possible for passengers (usually those participating in the TSA Pre-Check program) to leave liquids and laptops in their carry-on bags, making airline travel just a smidge more tolerable.

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