An interview with Prof. Zhiqiang Chen, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Nuctech. By Ross Falconer
Nuctech is currently partnering with various airports in Europe, Asia and the Middle East to discuss trial programmes for Kylin – its latest solution for cabin baggage screening. Some of these have already been put into operation and will be tested step by step based on the concept of operations of European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) EDS CB Standard C2 and Standard C3.
Indeed, Kylin recently received Standard C2 approval by ECAC for checkpoint security. “With a far-reaching influence within and beyond Europe, the new approval might usher us into possible new purchase and deployment,” says Prof. Zhiqiang Chen, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Nuctech. “With the C2 approval, Kylin allows for electronics to be left in hand baggage. Less divestment means checkpoint throughput and passenger experience might be improved. In addition, by participating in the testing process, valuable knowledge and experience have been gathered. This process serves as a significant step for us to further go through the tests of Standard C3, the highest level available now.”
From its inception, Kylin was designed to meet the latest C3 approval, which will allow for electronics and liquids to be left inside hand baggage. “Kylin utilises dual energy X-ray combined with Computed Tomography to enable the highest level of molecule and density analysis,” Chen explains. “With the rich information available, Kylin achieves an unprecedented high level of precision in detection. Explosives and narcotics can be automatically detected, even when concealed inside electronic devices or mixed with liquids.”
A Standard C3 application has been filed for Kylin, with testing in progress. Nuctech expects positive results by early-2019.
Meanwhile, this June the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) published its first-ever industry standard for people screening technology. “It shows the commitment of CAAC to introduce best-in-class screening technologies to Chinese airports, where traditional metal detectors are still the norm,” Chen comments.
After several rounds of rigorous testing, Nuctech’s millimetre wave body scanner – MW1000AA – has been approved by CAAC with the highest Type A standard.
“It serves as a strong testimony for our superior detection capability, and an important ‘ticket’ to future sales in China,” says Chen. “Equipped with approvals from ECAC and CAAC, MW1000AA is well positioned to fully explore the rich opportunities in airports at home and abroad.”
Nuctech utilises Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to help detect suspicious items automatically. The algorithm can be configured into a small palm-sized box called WEKNOW. “It can be used as an add-on alongside traditional X-ray machines, or the most state-of-the-art CT scanners,” Chen explains. “It greatly extends the capability of the scanners.”
With simple plug and play, WEKNOW brings intelligence to security scanners, by providing automatic alerts to prohibited knives, guns, explosives hidden inside electronics or liquid bottles, power banks or fire crackers with a detection rate said to be 90-95%.
Nuctech is also pushing towards customised algorithm development, via its dedicated in-house R&D team. “Partnered with our global customers, we are confident the target list would be continuously expanding,” says Chen. “In addition, the power of WEKNOW can also extend beyond alerting the threats. Intelligent diagnosis can be incorporated in the near future to realise scanner positioning, remote monitoring, system diagnosis, fault prevention, and predictive maintenance.”
Indeed, Nuctech’s predictive maintenance algorithm is designed to help greatly improve system availability and keep equipment downtime at a minimum.
“The status of each subsystem in the device is obtained in real time,” Chen comments. “Real-time monitoring is realised through the analysis of the data. Incorporating Nuctech’s decades of experience in system maintenance, the solution enables the airports to monitor system performance, predict component and equipment failure ahead of time, gain recommended maintenance advice, and optimise the fix and repair schedules.”
Nuctech believes that real-time screening has significant potential for airports seeking higher throughput and better passenger experience. It has developed a new body scanner utilising non-ionizing Terahertz technology – the TH1800, allowing for real-time screening for concealed threats.
“The non-invasive, passive screening alleviates the anxieties associated with pat-downs, providing a safe, quick and reliable way to safeguard the travelling public,” says Chen. “It can pinpoint suspicious metallic and non-metallic items from a distance of two to three metres. Hidden knives, guns, explosives and illicit drugs could be detected without the need to stop the traffic. With the real-time screening of people at range, a non-stop and carefree journey at the airport might be a reality in the near future.”
Chen explains that, equipped with AI algorithms, the TH body scanner can automatically mark up concealed threats. Meanwhile, an audio or visual alarm could be triggered to alert operators to perform a targeted search.
“We hope our new innovation provides inspiration for global aviation authorities to further explore new ways to improve the passenger journey into the future.”