Multicomputers to detect explosives at US airports

In the wake of the crash of TWA Flight 800, airport security in the USA and overseas has been the focus of public attention. President Clinton has already signed the Aviation Antiterrorism Bill that requires deploying explosives-detection systems in the busiest US airports. In the UK, the British Airports Authority has ordered three additional CTX 5000 explosives-detection systems from InVision Technologies (Foster City, CA) for deployment at London`s Heathrow airport.

Nov 1st, 1996

Multicomputers to detect explosives at US airports

In the wake of the crash of TWA Flight 800, airport security in the USA and overseas has been the focus of public attention. President Clinton has already signed the Aviation Antiterrorism Bill that requires deploying explosives-detection systems in the busiest US airports. In the UK, the British Airports Authority has ordered three additional CTX 5000 explosives-detection systems from InVision Technologies (Foster City, CA) for deployment at London`s Heathrow airport.

Embedded in these systems are VME-based multicomputers from Mercury Computer Systems (Chelmsford, MA). Now, Mercury has received an order worth more than $250,000 to supply enough computers for ten InVision CTX 5000 systems. Currently, there are 25 CTX 5000s installed worldwide.

"With the intense amount of computation required to interpret the computed-tomography scan images produced by the InVision CTX 5000, we need a fast computer and an open architecture to allow new technology to be integrated as it becomes available," said Sergio Magistri, president and CEO of InVision. Using Mercury`s latest multicomputers would significantly increase the current FAA-certified throughput rate of 260 bags per hour.

CTX 5000 systems combine computed-tomography and x-ray imaging to produce cross-sectional images of baggage contents. Mercury multicomputers reconstruct the slices and display the relative densities of the individual objects within each slice. This allows the scanning device to automatically locate and highlight suspicious objects, regardless of their shape or environment. The combination of computed-tomography scanning and x-ray analysis overcomes the limitations of current systems that cannot clearly distinguish overlapping objects.

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