Have there been many deployments in this field?
There have not been a lot of deployments in this field in the United States (at least that have been made public). European airports and airlines, however, have been far more active in using radio frequency identification to improve airport and airline operations. Here are a few deployments we've written about, including the companies that supplied the technology.
McCarran International Airport is the only airport in the United States that employs radio frequency identification on an ongoing basis for baggage handling (others have conducted pilots but, to my knowledge, have not yet rolled out a solution). It uses readers from Motorola and tags from Avery Dennison. The actual RFID-enabled baggage-handling system was provided by Vanderlande Industries (see McCarran International Airport Expands Its RFID Baggage-Handling System).
Delta Air Lines uses RFID software called RFID AeroCheck, designed by TechnologySolutions and provided by Aerospace Software Developments (ASD) Ltd. Delta employs custom-designed EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) passive RFID labels supplied by William Frick and Co. on oxygen generators, as well as Motorola MC9090G handheld readers loaded with the RFID AeroCheck software (see RFID Reduces Oxygen-Generator Waste for Delta Air Lines).
3M's Communication Markets Division supplied more than 1,000 RFID-enabled marker balls that were buried around a runway built at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2006. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) purchased the marker balls so that the FAA, airport employees and contractors could use handheld RFID interrogators to locate utility cables and pipes buried 5 feet underground, determine what type of infrastructure they represent and who owns that infrastructure (see RFID Markers Track Buried Cables at Atlanta Airport).
I.D. Systems provided an RFID-, sensor- and GPS-enabled system that American Eagle, the sister carrier to American Airlines, uses to better manage its fleet of ground support equipment (GSE) at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (see American Eagle Puts RFID on Ground Fleet).
In 2010, Vanguard ID Systems, a manufacturer of custom-printed bar-coded, magnetic-stripe and RFID cards and key tags, labels and bands, introduced a reusable RFID-enabled luggage tag that includes a battery-free, changeable electronic paper (e-paper) display that shows flight data. The reusable tag, known as a View Tag, employs RFID to transmit an ID number that could be linked to a bag's flight information, as well as display passenger and flight data on the tag itself, using only the energizing power of an RFID reader. Like ink on paper, e-paper depends on exterior light to illuminate its text, and can display that text indefinitely, without drawing electricity (see Reusable Electronic Baggage Tag Powered by RFID). I do not know if any U.S. airports or airlines are using it.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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