The UK Government has sanctioned a total of £1.8m to assist eight projects in developing new technology aimed at boosting airport security and improving the screening process.
The new aviation security solutions are being designed to improve threat detection capabilities, reduce queues and support faster airport screening processes.
Security Screening Technologies is one of the recipients of the grant, using new imaging technology to scan shoes for explosive materials.
Currently under development, the step-on shoe scanner will quickly take high-contrast images of shoes for analysis on computers. Any footwear that is flagged as dubious will then undergo secondary screening.
The funding is part of the five-year Future Aviation Security Solutions (FASS) programme, an initiative which aims to develop new technologies to boost aviation security.
UK Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg said: “The safety of people travelling on all modes of transport is our top priority and the Future Aviation Security Solutions programme is just one example of the huge importance we place on the security of passengers.”
Sequestim also received financial support. The Wales-based company has designed an alternative walk-through screening system.
The platform will reduce the number of manual checks and travellers will not have to remove outer clothing.
Each project team will have to develop their technology into a fully functioning prototype within one year so that it can be tested at airports.
Other projects that received funding include Durham University’s machine learning algorithms for X-rays, University College London’s application of machine learning to recognise irregular items and groups of objects in bags, and SEADM’s portable system to screen for explosives in cargo, working with Smiths Detection.
University College London has also secured funding for electromagnetic imaging for baggage and cargo. Funding will also be given to Scanna MSc for the development of a step-on shoe scanner to detect explosives and weapons, as well as the University of Cambridge for a project that changes the focus of training for airport security personnel.