US Customs and Border Patrol Launches Multi-Tech Filtering Solution

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Leidos MEP system provides X-ray functionality, radiation detection and identification technologies, such as QR codes, RFID and optical license plate scans, to speed up border crossing for vehicles commercial operations and make controls more effective.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) are deploying a Multi-Energy Portal Inspection (MEP) system to improve the sweeping of commercial vehicles crossing the U.S. border. The system, provided by technology company Leidos, was developed to help the border agency increase the accuracy and efficiency of cargo scanning. The technology captures data on each vehicle and will apply artificial intelligence (AI) to help patrol officers more quickly and accurately identify what is being transported across the border.

The solution provides non-intrusive inspection (NII) for commercial vehicles at land and sea ports of entry so officials can preview cargo without opening doors and physically inspecting the contents of each truck or van. The system is first installed at the border crossing in Brownsville, Texas, where it will be broadcast live this summer. Leidos’ MEP system has already been used this year at Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration and at Super Bowl LV.

Mathieu Guillebaud

The company’s Vacis MEP system consists of a QR code and RFID reader, along with license plate recognition (LPR) technology to capture data about each driver and vehicle from documentation, situation surveillance cameras, low energy backscattering for concealment areas and X-ray transmission for cargo inspection, as well as radiation detection, all to capture details regarding this which is inside and outside of each vehicle. The software links identity and imagery data and will provide AI to help border officials quickly identify which vehicles might require additional screening, as well as which ones are allowed to cross the border.

For CBP, the system aims to speed up border crossings for commercial vehicles, while control is intended to be more precise and efficient. CBP is the unified United States border agency within the United States Department of Homeland Security, which provides management, control and protection of the United States borders at and between official ports of entry. Its main mission is to facilitate legitimate international trade and it inspects cars, trucks, railcars and sea containers, as well as personal baggage, parcels, parcels and flat mail. Using an NII system, CBP seeks to detect and prevent inadmissible cargo (contraband, illicit narcotics, undeclared currency, firearms, ammunition and other illegal goods, as well as people) from being smuggled into the country.

Leidos provides technological solutions for defense, aviation and biomedical research. This new contract of 480 million dollars covers a period of five years, with the possibility of extending this period to 10 years. As part of the contract, the MEP system will be deployed at existing vehicle inspection sites across the United States. At each site, Leidos will integrate and install the technology at border crossings, then train CBP staff in its use, according to Mathieu Guillebaud, Leidos’ product management manager. Leidos is one of the largest IT service providers in the defense industry, he says.

Leidos developed the solution to incorporate its existing Vacis IP6500 integrated X-ray inspection system, as well as the detection technology of Viken Detection, consisting of its under-vehicle X-ray imager Osprey-EVX and Osprey-UVX. Under normal circumstances, the Vacis unit can scan up to 150 vehicles per hour, providing high resolution images through 300 millimeters (11.8 inches) of steel. The radiation detection feature can identify the presence of any nuclear material, while the Osprey unit can detect if contraband is hidden under a vehicle.

When drivers arrive at the border crossing, they present their cargo manifest and personal identification, such as their driver’s license and passport. Officers use the system’s scanners to scan the QR code printed on documents or read the UHF RFID tag embedded in passports and other documents. These data, combined with the LPR information, are entered in the software. If approved, the driver can walk through the gate and through the screening gate without stopping.

The filter door provides two forms of X-ray scanning: high energy transmission to inspect cargo inside a vehicle, as well as low energy backscatter to identify suspicious objects in or around areas of concealment, such as under the vehicle. High energy is focused on providing an all-round view of the high-density cargo, while backscatter technology is more focused on the external parts of the cargo, to find objects hidden under the vehicle, behind the bumpers or in cabin doors, for example. The solution is expected to improve CBP’s ability to identify contraband by giving officers multiple views of the cargo.

According to Guillebaud, a radiation monitor (RPM) scan measures all radiation emissions and this data is merged with other vehicle data captured for analysis, providing a unified view of the vehicle. Officers at the border command center can display real-time vehicle and driver data, as well as multiple cabin and cargo views. They can then analyze the scan results and either release the vehicle or return it for a secondary inspection. The whole process is designed to go quickly, he says. “This MEP is the latest version of our Vacis system,” he adds, leveraging Viken’s backscatter functionality for the first time.

Leidos intends to provide the solution to other customers, both nationally and internationally. In the meantime, the company expects the technology to increase CBP’s ability to quickly scan incoming vehicles, as well as automatically identify problems and reduce the length of queues at the border. The company offers a separate program for passenger occupied vehicles (POV).

During the presidential inauguration, CBP deployed two high-energy Leidos M6500 mobile systems, as well as two low-energy Vacis XPL POV systems, to the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, where responder equipment and personnel were located. . At Super Bowl LV, CBP deployed two M6500s to screen commercial delivery trucks and vans for weapons, explosives and other contraband, using advanced inspection technology. “We were very happy and proud to support CBP,” says Guillebaud.

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