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Sun. Dec 6th, 2020

Airports use LiDAR to make sure travelers stay six feet apart

The platform uses light pulses and machine learning to determine how many people are in a public space and to help enforce social distancing.

Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport (FLL) Terminal 1

Markus Mainka / Getty Images

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The same technology that estimates the wait time at airport security checkpoints now can alert you when you break social distancing guidelines. Many airports use light detection and ranging (LiDAR)  to count how many people are waiting in line at TSA checkpoints. One company has added machine learning to these systems to calculate the space between individuals and help enforce social distancing in public places.

Quanergy’s Flow Management platform combines LiDAR with its Quortex perception software powered by machine learning. Enzo Signore, chief marketing officer at Quanergy, said that more than 20 airports around the world use the platform, including facilities in Singapore, Vienna, Sydney, Miami, Charlotte, Las Vegas, and San Jose.

“LiDAR can tell if we are closer than six feet apart and someone from facilities can alert travelers if they are getting too close to each other,” he said. 

One benefit of using LiDAR for social distancing is that the system doesn’t collect or require any personal information to be effective. The LiDAR detection system also avoids civil liberty concerns because it does not collect personal information or use biometric technology like facial recognition to monitor activity and density. 

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He said public transportation organizations, retail stores, and sports venues have also expressed interest in the platform as a way to reopen public spaces safely.

The Flow Management system can be used to:

  • Count people so public places don’t exceed maximum capacity
  • Dispatch cleaning services based on actual use
  • Reduce crowding buy posting real time wait time online
  • Provide safe rides to and from work by monitoring the number of people on public transport

LiDAR’s other advantage is that a limited number of sensors can cover a broad area.

“LiDAR uses light, so as long as you have field of view and no obstructions, you have a long range of coverage,” he said.
 
Quanergy’s LiDAR systems send out about 1.3 million pulses of light per second. The Quortex perceptional software analyzes the density and movement of the reflections generated by these pulses to determine what the object is. 

 “The software looks at the distribution of vertical points in space, basically from the ankles to the chest to determine if the cluster of points is a person,” Signore said.

The software can tell the difference between the pattern of reflection of a person versus a car versus a cat. The setup is portable and can be used on playgrounds, in gymnasiums, and at public rallies.

Signore said that LiDAR is a good partner for camera-centric security systems.

“Cameras are accurate in counting people but you need to have hundreds of cameras because the field of view is very narrow,” he said.

Signore said that combining a LiDAR system and camera-based security system can reduce the number of false positives. A LiDAR system has a longer range than cameras and will detect activity first. If the LiDAR system determines that the movement detected is likely to be a human, then a camera can be redirected to the location. 

“Customers have seen an 84% reduction of 84% of false alarms when using LiDAR with cameras,” Signore said. 

Quanergy has integrated its software and hardware solution with video management systems to improve monitoring capabilities.

The company’s other large customer group is smart cities using the technology to improve safety on streets and sidewalks. Signore said Quanergy has about 25 implementations around the world to help cities manage traffic flow and warn bus and tram drivers if a pedestrian is in the path of the vehicle.

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