High energy cargo inspection for border protection

At this year’s Transport Security Expo held in London, TrafficSafe took the opportunity of discussing how high-energy inspection systems operate and how they can be used to keep dangerous goods, explosives and other contraband off the country’s roads.

Rapiscan Eagle Mobile Cargo Vehicle Inspection CVI system

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Rapiscan’s Frederic Brouiller explained his company’s development of the Eagle CVI (Cargo/Vehicle Inspection) system and how it is used at border crossings and sea ports to check containers as well as both light and heavy trucks. The system is used both for security and for manifest checking to ensure that what’s inside the vehicle coincides with what’s written on the paperwork. Any discrepancies in the manifest raises further security suspicions and results in a more thorough inspection of the cargo.

The Eagle system combines high energy X-ray technology to penetrate dense materials with advanced software in order to determine the cargo content using operator assistance. The complexity of determining contents in large containers has meant that operator assistance hasn’t yet been eliminated. Fully automatic explosive detection systems are a reality for airport baggage control points largely because emphasis is placed on the detection of explosives rather than the general contents of packages.

However, the process of container screening has been automated to some extent with the Rapiscan CVI system through the identification of variations in densities with the use of colours. Other technologies can also be integrated such as radiation detection.

We asked Frederic about the safety of the screening system and whether or not the vehicle driver or concealed illegal immigrants could be exposed to high energy radiation. He explained that there are high levels of built-in safety configuration which prevent high energy X-rays from being triggered at inappropriate moments. These systems are automatic and don’t depend on operator competence or concentration. Laser and camera sensors detect the shape of the vehicle and the position of the cab. As the vehicle passes through the gantry, the high-energy X-rays only trigger when the cargo section is encountered.

The presence of illegal immigrants in containers or vehicle cargo sections can’t be detected by the Eagle screening system and this is one of the reasons why Rapiscan works closely with border security organizations to put in place a safe and secure process that involves pre-screening of vehicles and containers to detect the presence of signs of life within them before high-energy screening. This pre-screening often involves either sound detectors or CO2 sensors.

Rapiscan’s expertise in the overall screening process also ensures that the best and most effective use is made of the company’s equipment to gain improvements in detection rates and throughput. To help achieve this, the CVI is equipped with ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras for selecting vehicles for screening. The port or border authorities can use the ANPR to select vehicles based on sampling rules that are programmed into the system to target specific vehicle profiles.

Jonathan Newell

Studied Engineering at Loughborough University and now involved in broadcast and technical journalism. Jonathan is based in London and Almaty.

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