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RFID plane tickets to track travellers

James Brown / vnunet.com | September 7 2006

Scientists at University College London (UCL) are developing a system that combines radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and high-definition CCTV cameras to track passenger movements in busy airports.

The EU-funded project, known as Optag, is intended to help airlines keep track of passengers and help them reach departure gates on time, reducing the risk of missing valuable take-off slots.

The system could also be used in places such as theme parks to find lost children, or delegates in large conference centres.

One of the project's leaders, Dr Paul Brennan of UCL's department of Electrical Engineering, says the system will work by placing RFID tags on boarding passes.

‘We are working to create an interface between the tags and the cameras so that while the tag locates the passenger, the camera can pick them out in a crowded departure lounge,' said Brennan.

‘So, if someone is late for a flight, for instance, they can be located instantly and shepherded to the departure gate.'

The project also involves vendor Innovision, a UK RFID specialist that will provide technology for the system.

Phil Bacon, the project's EU co-ordinator, says the system will be especially helpful for large aircraft such as the Airbus A380, that carries up to 700 passengers.

‘There is a problem of how to get that many passengers onto the aircraft in time to meet a scheduled departure,' he said.

‘It could also be used to track the movement of large numbers of people within an airport, so that queues could be cleared.'


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