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NEWS Last modified on April 15, 2011

New RFID baggage tags could save the airlines up to $650 million per annum



Engineers from Cambridge University in the UK claim to have devised a “ground-breaking radio tagging system” which could save airlines nearly $650 million per annum.



By Joe Bates

Engineers from Cambridge University in the UK claim to have devised a “ground-breaking radio tagging system” which could save airlines up to $650 million per annum.

Sithamparanathan Sabesan and Dr Michael Crisp, both from Cambridge University's engineering department, are confident that their Real Time Location System (RTLS) solution will allow airlines and airports to more cheaply, efficiently and accurately handle luggage.

Indeed, they claim that their system will ensure that users will be able to monitor the location of baggage to within one-metre.

So how is it different to the technology already being pioneered at airports such as Las Vegas–McCarran? Sabesan explains: “Current systems only allow for around 60% of tagged items to be detected and are also not able to locate tags accurately in real time, while the new system could be 100% accurate.

“A major objective of our approach was not only to overcome the limited range for reliable detection passive tags so that antennas could be placed with spacings of 20 metres (comparable with conventional WiFi spacings), but also to provide accurate real-time location. As an output of the project, a proof on principle demonstrator was created.

"This groundbreaking system will enable, for the first time, a wide range of new applications, which was previously not possible. These include passenger and luggage tracking in airports, which will reduce/eliminate aircraft turn-around delay and lost luggage.”

A major US airline is reputed to have shown an interest in their work, which has already won its creators a leading engineering entrepreneurship award from the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering and $65,000 in prize money.

According to IDTechEx research, the use of RFID to reduce lost luggage could save airlines in excess of $700 million yearly, while the market for tagging aircraft parts and spares could be up to $60 million.

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