Robot Thales: Airline check-in agent, border police and security in one

This computer could replace border police, airport security and check-in agents.

Robot Thales: Airline check-in agent, border police and security in one

This computer could replace border police, airport security and check-in agents. In an effort to speed up travelers’ passage through airports, a French computer developer company has come up with robots that could soon be in public service for France.

One human agent is only needed for every four or five machines. Thales is a company that specializes in electrical systems for the aerospace, defense and security sectors, and presented the new robot system at the Paris Air Show this week.

Passengers won’t have to deal with check-in desks, as Thales wants their machines to scan passports and print boarding passes. Now, this technology, which is already in place at many airports, is being taken further.

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Thales’ tall, white robots will also record an image of the passenger’s face and of their irises. The biometrics will be used to confirm the passenger’s identity and then shared with computers around the airport. An encrypted image of the person’s face will also be printed on boarding passes to enhance safety.

Thales already produces biometric passports and IDs for 25 countries, France among them. The multinational company, headquartered in the suburbs of Paris, has the French state as a major shareholder.

In March, the US Customs and Border Protection tested a system similar to Thales product, the Apex Air Entry and Exit Re-Engineering Project. The AEER used facial recognition software to match passengers with their ID photos. The experiment sparked privacy concerns among experts.

Privacy issues are real. Today the system is used for border control, tomorrow data could be shared for a whole host of other purposes.

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