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TSA testing new self-service screening technology at Las Vegas airport. Here's a look at how it works.

TSA unveils new self-screening program
TSA unveils new self-screening program 03:24

The Transportation Security Administration introduced new self-screening technology at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas in an effort to make security checks faster and safer for travelers.

The technology, which is being tested for the first time Wednesday, draws comparisons to self-checkout lanes at supermarkets. It will officially launch on March 11. 

TSA Administrator David Pekoske is championing this shift toward more autonomous security processes, although he said he believes it will be a while before travelers get used to the new technology. He said the ultimate goal is to enhance security, efficiency and the passenger experience.

"The bottom line is all the technology we put in place is much better for security, it's more efficient for passengers, and it's a better passenger experience," said Pekoske.

This innovative approach greets passengers with a virtual agent who is ready to assist by answering questions. TSA agents are available for support, but they don't need to be physically present at the checkpoint. This new system also allows officers to monitor X-ray machines remotely, potentially reducing the number of TSA agents needed at each checkpoint.

The setup aims to be like a regular TSA checkpoint but with fewer agents and more streamlined operations. Features include automated conveyors for luggage that needs additional screening and a more sensitive detection system, although some passengers could experience hiccups, with items as small as hair clips triggering the system.

Despite these minor issues, many at Harry Reid International Airport found the process straightforward and efficient, with the automated system's ability to quickly reroute bags for secondary screening without manual intervention. This automation is expected to allow officers to better focus on identifying potential risks and threats.

However, it's still early, for this technology, and its effectiveness and speed compared to traditional screening lanes are yet to be fully determined. 

"We really don't know how many people we're going to get per hour through it," said Christina Peach, deputy assistant administrator. "Is it faster than a traditional lane? Is it slower than a traditional lane? And how do we build upon that?"

For those passing through Las Vegas, it's a chance to experience the future of airport security firsthand, although TSA officials caution that the system is still in the testing phase and not yet ready for widespread implementation nationwide.

"They should know we're looking at different solutions, and that they might see elements of this... in checkpoints in the next few years," said Pekoske. 

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