Sydney Airport in first stages of trialling ‘couch to gate’ facial recognition technology


10 July 2018

Sydney Airport (SYD) in Australia is in the first stages of trialling ‘couch to gate’ facial recognition technology in conjunction with Qantas. The biometrics system, when fully tested, will mean that Qantas passengers will be able to complete most stages of their airport journey using their face as their access identification. The initial phase of the trial will test four key steps in the passenger journey including automated check-in, bag drop, lounge access, and boarding. Additional steps proposed for future trials include mobile check-in and automated border processing. Sydney Airport CEO, Geoff Culbert, said that this is the most extensive biometrics trial to date and is part of a broader investment in technology to improve services to the 43 million passengers who pass through the airport each year. “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,” he said. Under the trial, passengers will need to consent to using the biometrics system, which adheres to strict privacy standards and complies with relevant legislation, Sydney Airport said. The Australian government’s border processing procedures will remain unchanged and travellers will still be required to undergo the current border process. In July 2018, the federal government said it would spend AUD 22.5 million over the next three years to deploy facial recognition at Australia’s airports. Under a contract with Vision-Box Australia, the government said it would deploy up to five new smart gates, with more expected to be rolled out in the future.

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