Australian airport to trial contactless biometric scanners for travelers

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection will soon trial “contactless” biometric technology at Sydney and Canberra’s international airports in the coming weeks, according to a report by The Straits Times.

The pilot, which is a part of the federal government’s “seamless traveler” initiative, will allow international visitors to walk directly to their baggage without having to display their passports.

The biometric data — which are based on faces, irises and possibly fingerprints and gait — will be matched against previously captured data from travelers at departure gates when exiting the country.

If successful, the technology will be rolled out at airports across the country starting next year. The department said that it will improve border security and enable a more seamless journey for travelers.

Currently operated by Singapore Airlines, Canberra Airport offers international flights to Singapore and Wellington, New Zealand.

Under the government’s plan, 90 percent of eligible travelers will be allowed to “self-process” at the border through its SmartGates by 2020, which is aimed at helping airports to accommodate the significant spike in visitors in coming years.

“Contactless functionality will be added to all arrivals SmartGates commencing 2018,” a department spokesman said. “‘Contactless’ allows increasing numbers of travelers to clear the border without the need to present a travel document by using biometric facial recognition to verify their identity. However, travelers will still be required to carry a valid travel document.”

Australian airports currently clear about 40 million passengers and crew members a year, with these numbers projected to increase to 50 million annually by 2020 due to rising tourism and business travel.

The biometric data will be matched against data which was previously captured from passengers at departure gates as they were leaving the country. Some countries may also share their biometric data with Australia.

The biometric technology is scheduled to be rolled out across the country’s nine biggest airports – including Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane – in the second half of 2018.

In July, Vision-Box won a major tender agreement from the Australian federal government worth around $22.7 million for the provision of automated biometric contactless traveler clearance process technology for Australia’s airports.

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