by John McHale
CHELMSFORD, Mass. — Engineers at Sky Computers in Chelmsford, Mass., are supplying their parent company, Analogic Corp. in Peabody, Mass., with the SKYpack multiprocessor systems for use in the Analogic Explosive Assessment Computed Tomography (EXACT) systems.
Sky Computers' SKYpack system is the image reconstruction engine for the EXACT. Earlier this month Analogic received an open-ended order for as many as 1,000 EXACT systems from an original equipment manufacturer.
"The success of the EXACT demonstrates the extensive capabilities of the Analogic team, including Sky Computers," says Bernard Gordon, executive chairman of Analogic. Together, we are able to respond innovatively to a variety of imposing technological challenges facing our customers, and in this instance, also our country."
"Analogic extended their existing CT scanning technology - which has revolutionized medical care - increased its capabilities and performance, and applied it to explosive detection," says Don Barry, president and chief executive officer of Sky Computers. "The EXACT system also can be used to detect narcotics and other contraband. We believe Analogic's advanced CT technology combined with Sky's sophisticated image processing systems will become a cornerstone in processing luggage for airport security and the safety of air travel."
The EXACT is a multi-slice, dual-energy, helical-cone-beam computed tomography scanner, and the heart of the first single-unit, second-generation Explosive Detection System (EDS) certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Washington to scan checked luggage for aircraft, Analogic officials claim.
U.S. government officials are buying certified EDS systems for major airports across the U.S., as mandated by Congress in the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of November 2001, company officials say.
The EXACT can examine the entire contents of a bag in one pass, obtaining 10 times more data per bag than the first generation of machines, Analogic officials claim.
The EXACT creates multi-slice volumetric scans, making it possible to identify the key characteristics of the contents of a piece of luggage while the system's conveyor belt moves it through the machine's gantry. In a matter of seconds, the data derived from the scanner's 6000-channel data acquisition system (DAS) are analyzed and compared to numerical profiles of known explosives, company officials say. Using the SKYpack multiprocessor system, the EXACT can provide the data for full, three-dimensional (3-D) images of all the objects in a bag, Sky computers Officials say.
The CT portion of the system is the result of a technical proposal prepared by Analogic in response to the FAA's requirement for a new generation of economical, faster, more accurate, and reliable Explosive Detection Systems, company officials say.
The EXACT is the heart of a certified EDS that exceeds the FAA's stringent requirements for identification of difficult-to-detect plastic explosives in passenger baggage and for rapid bag throughput with a low false alarm rate, company officials claim. The EDS system automatically isolates and analyzes every item against the characteristics of explosive materials.
Using the SKYpack multiprocessor system from Sky Computers, the EXACT has been certified to process more than 500 bags an hour, Analogic officials claim. Even with its own on-board air conditioning system, the EXACT is lighter and more compact than other CT-based systems, making transportation and installation easier and less expensive, company officials claim.