Driving Heathrow’s sustainable growth objectives of making Heathrow a ‘Responsible Gateway’ and a place that strives to end trafficking of people and wildlife. Wise Technical, in a collaboration with Heathrow, Border Force, Microsoft ‘AI for Good’ programme, BJSS, United for Wildlife and Traffic* is part of a programme of leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance detection of endangered species and wildlife products in checked baggage and air cargo.
Since 1997 the UK has adopted the practice of 100 per cent screening of hold baggage, meaning every bag has an x-ray image generated, and more recently with introduction (ECAC) Standard 3-approved explosives detection systems (EDS), nearly all outbound bags at Heathrow have a 3D x-ray image produced.
The idea of the project was to understand if AI could be used to detect IWT in the x-ray images produced by the EDS across the Heathrow campus, scanning up to 250K bags a day. With Wise Technical’s subject matter experts in Hold Baggage X-Ray equipment and software developers, we were fundamental to the program launch.
We organised and performed test runs of real IWT items seized by Border Force to generate training data, developed a pre-processing pipeline to convert the 3D x-ray renders to a format accepted by object recognition AI models and supported with the technical design for the development of the solution. The end result for Border Force will be a notification, provided by a PowerApp, that provides details about any bag detected and believed to contain ITW items.
*The wildlife trade monitoring network