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July 13, 2017

Seattle-Tacoma International is the largest airport in the Pacific Northwest. And while the distinction is great for business — it can be a pain for passengers, who can get stuck in long security lines.

However, the airport’s newest employee “Tracy” is on a mission to change that.

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On Tuesday, Sea-Tac officials announced they will be testing a new program, in conjunction with the American Association of Airport Executives Innovation Forum, in the form of a robot agent named Tracy.

The life-sized robot, Kiro7 News reported, will provide tips to passengers who are about to go through security: It will approach travelers and quickly scan their outfit via a camera and sensor to detect if the person may be wearing an item that will need to be removed for security, such as a necklace, hat, sunglasses or belt. Tracy will also display a video to show passengers exactly what needs to be removed before heading through the X-ray.

“We’re trying to evaluate whether robotic technology can actually help us process passengers more quickly through the checkpoint lines,” said David Wilson, director of innovation for Sea-Tac International Airport.

If the tests prove fruitful for the airport the robots will be purchased, at $20,000 to $30,000 a piece. While that may seem pricey, it would be a significant savings for the airport, which spent an estimated $3.3 million to hire 90 temporary contractors to help passengers comply with security screening guidelines before they reached the screening checkpoints.

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“We have seen effects already,” Wilson said, “just really early, preliminary, that someone will watch it, and then they’ll go ahead and start taking something out and putting it away.”

Tracy’s first official day on the job is Thursday. She will be on hand for peak travel times only.

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