Synthetik Awarded Contract from DHS to Generate Machine Learning Training Data for Passenger Screening

Synthetik has been awarded a contract from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology directorate Apex Screening at Speed program to use deep learning to provide a next-generation passenger baggage screening capability to TSA. This six-month project is funded under the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program, a program established by the Small Business Administration Office to ensure that the nation’s small, high-tech, innovative businesses are a significant part of the federal government’s research and development efforts.

A record 4.1 billion airline passengers traveled during 2018 – and according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), this number is on-track to double to 8.2 billion passengers over the next 15-20 years. To meet this challenge, a new wave of passenger, baggage, and vehicle scanning technology is being developed and deployed at airports globally.

However, in order to truly serve the billions of airline passengers traveling annually, automation is urgently needed to improve the speed and effectiveness of security screening, reduce wait times, and increase detection accuracy. A machine learning (ML) based approach for automatic detection is the right choice. However, there is a key issue: to train effective machine learning-models a large volume of high-quality data is essential, and manually generating such imagery is time-intensive, laborious, and expensive.

To meet this challenge, Synthetik is developing a new physics-based synthetic data generation and annotation platform that will provide millions of training examples to support next generation high-accuracy object detection at speed and scale.

According to Peter Vonk, CEO at Synthetik, “…we are very excited about this project as it builds directly from our other ongoing programs with DHS.  We’re already working on 2D and 3D passenger baggage screening and vehicle scanning, and this project will help provide the high volume of ground-truth training data we need to launch at global-scale.  Synthetic data generation will unlock the potential of machine learning and change security screening forever.”

About Synthetik Applied Technologies:

Synthetik Applied Technologies LLC is a fast-growing technology start-up that is creating breakthrough technology to mitigate the greatest threats to the world around us, including terrorism, extreme events and global environmental impact.  Founded in 2017 and headquartered in Austin, Texas, Synthetik is already working with the U.S. Air Force, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on highly innovative AI solutions. Synthetik also provides consulting services to the world’s largest insurance companies and maintains their state-of-art data analytics and scientific computing platforms including: cityCORE, blastKit, and the U.S. Department of Defense-backed blastFoam CFD solver.   Synthetik is an official partner of the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) and the Microsoft AI for Earth program.

If you would like more information about this topic, please call Tim Brewer at (818) 296-8611, or email

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 DHS Science & Technology Apex Screening at Speed (SaS) Program:

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