Headwall hyperspectral sensors enter accelerator stage of Opioid Detection Challenge

Sept. 11, 2019
The Opioid Detection Challenge is a U.S. program to design equipment that non-invasively detects opioids in mailed packages.
The Opioid Detection Challenge
The Opioid Detection Challenge aims to detect opioids in mail packages using a suite of scientific technologies.
The Opioid Detection Challenge aims to detect opioids in mail packages using a suite of scientific technologies.

Headwall Photonics (Bolton, MA) announced that its hyperspectral imaging technology is part of a proposal by Battelle chosen as a first-stage finalist for the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate Opioid Detection Challenge.

The Automated Multimodal Opioid Detection system by Battelle uses Headwall hyperspectral imaging sensors, as well as dual-energy radiography and machine-learning algorithms, to non-invasively detect opioids in packages without disrupting the flow of mail.

“We thrive on working with companies like Battelle with a long track record of success on projects that save lives,” David Bannon, CEO of Headwall said. “Our hyperspectral sensors offer a powerful combination of machine vision sensing, real-time processing capability, and a ruggedized design that already benefits thousands of customers around the world with instruments on the process line, on the farms, in the air, and even in space. Helping to reduce the human cost of addiction by automated interdiction has great social impact and means a great deal to us and our community.”

According to the White House, the abuse of opioids such as fentanyl has created an unprecedented public health crisis across the United States. In 2017, approximately 50,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses. International mail has been identified as a route for illicit opioids entering the United States, commonly transported in nearly pure, powdered form. Consequently, large-scale drug trafficking can occur via small packages sent in the mail.

As part of the comprehensive government effort to address the crisis, DHS S&T, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), are seeking novel, automated, nonintrusive, user-friendly and well-developed designs for tools and technologies. The $1.55 million prize competition attracted 83 submissions from around the world.

The Battelle/Headwall system now moves on to a 14-week accelerator stage, during which a deployable prototype will be developed. Government and industry mentors will provide specialized support on topics such as the inspection process, trace detection, artificial intelligence, and user design. These tools would be deployed in international mail, express consignment facilities, and other environments across the country.

SOURCE: Headwall Photonics; https://www.headwallphotonics.com/press-releases/press-releases-blog/headwall-high-speed-hyperspectral-opioid-detection

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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