What role has biometric technology played in TSA’s response to COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the commercial aviation sector and on TSA’s aviation security mission. TSA must prioritize the health and safety of our officers and the traveling public. To promote social distancing and reduce contact between officers and passengers, we are exploring a self-service version of Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) that enables passengers to scan their own photo IDs for authentication and uses biometrics to verify passenger identity, eliminating a point of contact between officers and passengers. This updated version of CAT (known as CAT-2) biometrically verifies a passenger’s identity by taking a picture and comparing the passenger’s live image to the photo on their authenticated photo ID (e.g., driver's license, passport). TSA first demonstrated this technology in August 2020 at DCA. TSA also conducted additional pilots to further test this technology, starting in March 2021 at DCA, PHX, IND, and MIA. TSA has since upgraded the CAT-2 units to feature a digital ID reader, updated user interface, and other enhancements including a new podium and space for additional processing power. Starting in March 2022, TSA began conducting field tests to assess these upgraded CAT-2 units.