Manchester Metropolitan University

News story

Bag scanning technology could automatically detect weapons

Tests ongoing at Manchester Airport

AIRPORT security experts at Manchester Metropolitan University are developing new baggage scanning technology that could automatically detect weapons.

Dr Peter Twigg, a senior lecturer in the Department of Engineering and Technology, is carrying out tests at Manchester Airport to find out how guns, pistols and hand grenades can be identified using an unmanned control system.

The system aims to pick up weapons by matching their outline against objects in a pre-stored database. Existing scanning systems rely on operators to spot weapons and suspect packages.

Dr Twigg said: "Although explosives can be detected automatically, there is currently no such system in place to automatically identify weapons.

Boost to public confidence

"Bag scanning staff typically work 20-minute shifts before taking a break and, although they are well trained, there is always room for human error. Potentially our system is much more accurate and could boost public confidence in airport security."

The prototype database currently holds six images of three different weapons, taken from different angles, and a neural network allows the system to match new images against those stored on file.

The researchers are using bag scanning facilities at Manchester Airport to test the reliability of their technology.

"We are looking to expand the database and even include components of different weapons and ammunition" Dr Twigg said.

Back-up system

"We see it working alongside scanning operators who would need to implement security procedures if a weapon was identified and the alarm sounds.”

The researchers are seeking funding to develop the technology.

In a separate study, Dr Twigg is investigating whether biometric wristbands could speed up passport check-in. The wristbands, which include an ultra wideband transmitter, can identify a person through facial verification.


For more information, please contact Gareth Hollyman in the MMU Press Office on 0161 247 3406 or Dr Peter Twigg on 0161 247 3680

For more information about research in Engineering and Technology at MMU, go to

Next Story Offices and homes produce huge CO2 emissions
Previous Story Amber reveals ecology of 30 million year old spiders