Sydney Airport collaborates with Qantas for facial recognition trial

‘Couch to gate’ pilot launched

The first stage of a pilot to test ‘couch to gate’ biometrics at Sydney Airport has gone live.

Qantas is the first partner for the trial, which will use facial recognition to identify passengers enrolled in the system during their journey through the airport.

The trial will initially involve passengers on select Qantas international flights and cover automated check-in, bag drop, Qantas Lounge access and boarding.

Participation is voluntary.

“There is an increasing need for airlines and airports to offer faster and more convenient airport experiences and we’re excited to see what results the trial produces,” said Qantas chief customer officer Vanessa Hudson.

“Qantas customers will not only be able to check in for their flight using the technology, it is also available for our lounge staff who can create a more personalised experience when passengers arrive.”

Future trials may involve mobile enrolment in the system (as opposed to kiosk-style enrolment) and automated border processing.

Sydney Airport is working with Vision-Box for the pilot, which is part of the Fast Passenger Processing Project.

The underlying platform for the system is dubbed the PDE, or Passenger Data Envelope. It is connected integration points throughout the Qantas terminal.

The PDE is based on the International Air Transport Association’s One Identity concept. The PDE is responsible for processing the facial capture when an individual enrols in the system and creating an identifying token.

Tokens can be tracked at each point of a passenger’s journey through the terminal, allowing Qantas, and other airlines that participate in the future, to see how many passengers for a flight have checked in or dropped off their luggage, been through security processing or are in the lounge.

“We’re very excited that select Qantas passengers now have the chance to experience this highly sophisticated technology as part of this landmark trial,” said Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert.

“We’ve worked with Qantas from the outset and are delighted to be partnering with them as we trial this technology.

“In the future, there will be no more juggling passports and bags at check-in and digging through pockets or smartphones to show your boarding pass – your face will be your passport and your boarding pass at every step of the process.”

In 2017 Vision-Box also won a $22.5 million government contract to implement facial recognition at immigration processing in airports.

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