Customs Border Patrol agents manning the crossing at San Ysidro in California, probably one of the busiest land border checkpoints in the world, have most of their work cut out for them. A drive-through x-ray machine, called the “Z Portal”, was unveiled there last week. Looking like a huge carwash, the machine will help uncover contraband, as well as stowaways being smuggled into the U.S.
Manual searches are time-consuming, even with the help of dogs to do the job. The Z Portal at the US – Mexican border in San Ysidro does it fast and thorough with the use of Z backscatter x-ray imaging developed by American Science and Engineering, Inc (AS&E). The technology can even detect plastic weapons and explosives by providing multiple views of photo-like x-ray images.
Border patrol agents have apparently taken a liking to the new technology as they claim it has already helped them seize a total of 3,000 pounds of drugs since its introduction. With safety issues arising from the use of the device, the driver and passengers can opt to have an agent drive their vehicle through the Z Portal for scanning. Furthermore, radiation emitted by the device is just a tiny fraction of what medical-grade x-rays actually produce – around 2,000 times less.