3DX-RAY has collaborated with University College London (UCL) to deliver the proof of principle system for a project funded under the Innovative Research Call in Explosives and Weapons Detection (2007), a cross-government programme sponsored by a number of government departments and agencies under the CONTEST strategy. It is hoped the system could provide a low cost alternative to CT scanning to replace 2D x-ray inspection as the first line of defence in checked baggage screening.
The team at University College London, headed up by Prof Robert Speller, turned to 3DX-RAY after successfully completing a feasibility study into alternative methods of producing 3D tomographic images for baggage inspection. 3DX-RAY provided the hardware and systems expertise to integrate the UCL team’s new tomographic imaging software to produce a proof of principle system.
Checked baggage inspection is a multi-layered process designed to weed out false-alarms from genuine threats through a series of timely and complex inspections. The first line of defense is 2D x-rays that are not always ideal because they throw up high false alarm rates. While CT scanning x-ray techniques are more accurate, they are also costly and slow. UCL believes it has identified a more accurate and effective system that will lower the volume of bags that have to go for additional screening.
The research team realised they can achieve the same effect, as CT scanning x-ray techniques, by collecting images from multiple angles using 2D x-ray sources and detectors with an overhead visual camera and using intelligent algorithms to collate these x-ray ‘slices’ and produce 3D images. These incredibly accurate images will not only allow operators to be able to see the shape of the objects but also to determine types of material too.
3DX-RAYS’s, Nick Fox, CTO, said: “This is an exciting project and will be a huge leap for the future of baggage scanning because it provides a viable low cost alternative to CT-scanning that could be rolled out across airports very easily. Although this technology is still some way from full commercialisation it is a fantastic project to be involved with.
“We are delighted to be working with UCL on this project. The university has a worldwide reputation in this sector and we are always looking to work with advancing technologies. If successful, we hope the team can take this into the marketplace.”
Project manager, Dr Elena Vescovo added: “This is cutting edge research and 3DX-RAY’s expertise has proved invaluable. We have a long-standing relationship with 3DX-RAY and their experience and technical ability in x-ray imaging is second to none. We are looking forward to taking this project to the next stage producing a full prototype system and working on real world testing.”