Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bag drop-off made easier with vision

There's nothing our European Editor likes more each year than taking a couple of weeks or more away from the hustle and bustle of work to spend his time loafing around in France's sunshine playground and enjoying fine wine and delicious food.

The trouble is, he does not much care for the journey to get there, nor the journey back. The UK airports are crowded affairs, you see, and boarding a plane often entails waiting in very long lines before one can obtain a boarding pass and check in one's bags.

However, thanks to a rather innovative system developed by Netherlands-based BagDrop (Rotterdam, the Netherlands), our European Editor's personal issues at the airport might finally be a thing of the past.

The new BagDrop systems looks set to make it easier for passengers to check in for a flight, obtain a boarding pass, as well as drop off their luggage, all without the need for any involvement from airport personnel.

Using the system, a passenger is first identified through the use of a scanner that can read passports and barcodes from flight confirmation documents e-mailed by airlines, after which flight details are verified. The passenger is then issued with a boarding pass and a barcode label that must be affixed to his or her bag.

In the next step, the bag is deposited into the BagDrop unit, which then checks the barcode to determine whether it was the same one that was printed for the passenger. In addition to calculating the volume of the bag using a 3-D imaging system, the system also measures a number of other parameters, including the bag weight, dimensions, and shape to determine whether or not it can be conveyed by the system. For liability reasons, it also captures an image of the exterior of the bag.

Once the bag has been accepted by the system, it then prints a claim tag that passengers can use to verify the identity of the bag upon arrival at their final destination.

The BagDrop system is already up and running at Schiphol Airport where it has already processed thousands of passengers. Unfortunately, our European Editor hasn't seen any of the systems at Heathrow airport yet, so he's still going to have to wait in a long line to take his next holiday flight to France. That's if I allow him to take any holiday this year.

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