facial recognition tech
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To try and speed up boarding the airport is working with easyJet for an initial trial of the facial recognition tech.

Gatwick Airport has launched a trial of biometric technology aimed at speeding up airport processes by using facial recognition tech and autonomous gates to help passengers move through the terminal.

As part of the programme, expected to last three months, facial recognition tech will be used at self-service bag drops which will verify that a passenger’s face matches their passport and information on their boarding pass.

This information will be verified again at self-boarding gates in a process that Gatwick says will take less than 20 seconds to complete and allow passengers to board.

The trial has been launched alongside easyJet with the hope that it will free up airport staff to offer assistance to those who need it, as well as reducing queuing time as they travel through the airport.

facial recognition tech at gatwick airport
It is hoped the new technology will free up staff for passengers who need help (Steve Parsons/PA)

Similar facial recognition tech systems are already used at border control at some airports, where facial data is matched to the passport being scanned to confirm entry.

The airport said passengers would be able to opt out of the trial if they so wish and that data captured by the cameras during the trial would be destroyed after 24 hours.

Gatwick chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe said: “Gatwick prides itself on providing innovative solutions to enhance the passenger experience at every touch point.

“With the rate of growth we have experienced, it is essential we are able to find more efficient ways of processing passengers through the airport safely and securely.

easyjet trialling facial recognition tech
Gestur Gislason / Shutterstock.com

“Self-boarding technology is the obvious next piece in the jigsaw following extensive investment in our automated check-in and security processing areas.

“I’m excited to see this trial come to life with easyJet’s passengers. Together we are at the forefront of providing technological solutions that enhance the passenger journey.”

The airport also said it believes using the autonomous systems could improve security as it reduces the risk of human error.

EasyJet’s director of ground operations Karen Cox said the airline was constantly looking at ways to innovate in how it interacted with passengers.

“Whilst still in its very early stages this project is clearly consistent with our digital strategy of continuing to innovate to make passengers’ journeys easier at every stage of their interaction with us – from searching and browsing for a flight through to stepping off the aircraft in their destination,” she said.

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