Article contributed by Molly Taylor-Fagan. 

Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH) has announced the launch of trials for a new facial recognition technology at border control, to replace the repetitive use of physical passports and to increase efficiency in the passenger onboarding processes.   

With the intention of reducing queuing times and cracking down on fraud, the system is designed to recognise passengers’ facial characteristics in order to verify their identity, using smart cameras and biometric technology. 

The innovation will be gradually rolled out airport-wide, with testing commencing in ‘phase one’ at the US Customs and Border Protection point at AUH. This will mean that US citizens can clear US immigration checks whilst still in Abu Dhabi, as a ‘preclearance service’.  

Abu Dhabi Airport have fully financed the system delivered by NEXT50, an AI tech company based in Abu Dhabi. The CEO of NEXT50 assured The National that the developments would ‘Ease the queues and people waiting at the airport’.  

Efforts to make airport checks more seamless and frictionless follow a report carried out by Iata, who found that airline customers are most stressed by ‘flight transfers, border control delays airport security and baggage collection’, experiences that can be eased by more efficient and streamlined airport checks.