Why did TSA decide to use backscatter instead of millimeter wave advanced imaging technology (AIT)?
This is a question we’ve been getting a lot lately. The truth is we didn’t choose one over the other. We’re currently using both backscatter and millimeter wave technology, and we just announced that we purchased 302 additional imaging technology units. We are buying 202 millimeter wave units and 100 backscatter units.
In order to be included in the competitive process, strict detection standards must be met. Currently, only two companies have AIT machines that meet those standards. As companies develop new über cool technologies, they can be included in the competitive process.
Speaking of fantabulous über cool technologies, many have also asked why we’re not using Automated Target Recognition (ATR) software since the technology exists. ATR software is used with AIT and displays a generic stick figure-like image on the monitor attached to the AIT machine to show potential threats concealed on a passenger, and does not display the actual image of the passenger. It provides stronger privacy protections and eliminates the need to staff an extra officer in a private room. We’re very interested in this next generation software, but ATR in its current form does not meet TSA’s detection standards.
Software development is currently underway and will be followed by testing to ensure it meets our detection standards.
TSA Blog Team