Baggage theft at airport (Representational Image)
Researchers claim to have developed a smart system that can help prevent baggage theft and facilitate hassle free collection of luggage at airports by providing estimated time of arrival (ETA) at the conveyor belt for pickup. The novel solution developed by a team at Lovely Professional University (LPU) in Punjab restricts a person from taking away someone else's baggage at the exit gate of the airport. The system also assists the passengers by reminding them in case they have forgotten to collect their baggage, researchers said.
They noted that despite having a tight security system at most of the airports, baggage loss or theft is a common issue among travellers. While there is a strict process in place for luggage collection on departure, very little emphasis has been given to baggage collection and theft prevention process on arrival, they said. Also, airports have not come up with any system to locate or track baggage, which forces the passengers to stand in queue and wait for several minutes for their luggage to arrive.
"During our research, we could not find any existing systems providing services similar to us. Our solution is helpful to resolve these problems that have not been addressed so far," Gurjot Singh Gaba, Assistant Professor at LPU, told PTI.
"Passengers who pay a huge amount as airfare would benefit from this technology. Their baggage loss would be prevented and also they would easily collect their luggage at the airports," Gaba said.
According to a report by the aviation IT specialist, SITA, every minute 40 bags get mishandled worldwide. In 2018, that amounted to more than 24.8 million mishandled bags, costing the air transport industry USD 2.4 billion, researchers said. "Airport authorities receive baggage loss cases of million dollars every year which tarnishes their reputation. With our system, they could prevent losses of this kind. Hence, it will be beneficial for airport authorities as well," Gaba said.
Travellers face long queues at crowded airports, and have to spend a lot of time in queues for collecting the baggage. The passengers have to stand around the conveyor belt until their respective baggage arrives. The entrance of airport has high security but during exit there is no one to verify that the luggage is taken away only by the rightful owner.
The proposed system provides the solution to overcome both of these issues. "We have used the existing technology of passenger database creation at airports along with most used technology for logistics (bar codes scanners and bar codes) which drives the system," Pawan Kumar Raghav, B.Tech student of Electronics and Communications at LPU told PTI.
"The baggage on the conveyor belts is tracked and the passengers are informed about their luggage arrival schedule on the liquid crystal displays (LCDs) placed near the conveyor belt. During exit, our smart system placed at exit gates verifies the authenticity of the baggage owner," said Raghav, who led the student team, including Vikas Singh and Deepak Singh Bisht.
Researchers said the system will be placed at the conveyer belt where the associated display board will indicate the estimated time of arrival (ETA) of baggage with passenger details. The passenger can come forward as per the ETA to collect the luggage and exit from the airport door. While exiting, the system will scan and authenticate the luggage details associated with the passenger and match it to a centralised database.
The gate will open only if the details are found to be correct, thus allowing only legitimate owners to take away their baggage. In case a passenger has left his baggage at the conveyer belt, the system will remind that passenger to collect the luggage from the belt. "We have made an association between baggage and passenger. If the passenger is taking away the baggage through the exit gate which is not associated with him, our smart system will alert and not let the passenger go out of the airport," Raghav added.
"Thus our system helps the passenger during baggage pickup from conveyor belt as well as protects baggage from being stolen," he said.
The researchers said the hardware of the system does not require much space for deployment and it can be easily integrated into the existing systems at airports. Till now, the team has tested the system in a "miniaturised form." "Our research has been carried out on a small scale to validate the invention and claims as these kinds of inventions need a huge infrastructure, money and permissions to test on a large scale," Raghav noted.
The researchers have applied for a patent for the system, which they said has been selected for commercialisation by National Research Development Corporation (NRDC).
The cost of the technology will depend on the number of conveyor belts on which the service will be offered and the number of exit gates where smart tracking system will be deployed. "As most of the infrastructure already exists, so the cost of implementation is not going to be a challenge," Gaba said.