• Oct 22, 2008

The U.S./Mexican border at San Ysidro, California, is one busy place. In 2005 alone, more than 17 million cars and 50 million people passed through -- making it the world's busiest land border crossing. In an effort to speed things up, officials have unveiled a drive-through X-ray machine. From outward appearances, it looks like a simple car wash. In fact, the device is a huge "backscatter" X-ray imaging machine called a Z Portal. Car owners (or a border agent) drive through the device while the vehicle is screened for contraband. Downplaying any safety concerns, Custom and Border Patrol officials say a couple thousand trips through the Z Portal is equal the radiation exposure from a single traditional medical X-ray. The imaging machine was unveiled just last week, and San Diego officials claim it has already helped them seize more than 3,000 pounds of drugs. Thanks for the tip, Bob!

[Source: The Earth Times, photo by American Science and Engineering, Inc.]



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  • 18 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is a great way to check for rust, cracked engine blocks and chassis, etc... Cool!
      Next time you buy a used car run it through.
      Ian Merizalde
      • 6 Years Ago
      To be fair, I think it's the UK that's developing the full body scanner, not the US.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If you go into a hospital for an X-ray they cover your nads with a lead blanket...if they're worried about heated seats getting rid of the baby-makers, this thing aught to clear out a generation!
        s13hybrid
        • 6 Years Ago
        Helping solve the world's over populetion problem.

        Note: When traveling to and from Mexico, wear a lead suit.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm surprised they didn't set it up like an automated car wash that pulls the car through unattended.
      But as far as XRay tech goes, modern xrays use dramatically less radiation than they did even 5 years ago.

      They're not kidding when they say "a couple thousand trips through the Z Portal is equal the radiation exposure from a single traditional medical X-ray" the tech is definitely there. Reason I know: my employer sells xrays, so we see all the latest tech in the dental field.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm pretty sure that the detroit/windsor crossing already has something like this as well. I drove through 2 weeks ago and they had these things that look like cameras pointed at the car from all angles, everyone of them had radioactive stickers on them. X-ray machine or something else??
      • 6 Years Ago
      so between the new full body machines at the airport and now this, is it the goal of this country to make everyone radioactive? Remember back in the day at the doctors office when they said one or two xrays a year was enough?
        • 6 Years Ago
        lolz..This has been in place for 2 years. It's now officially in use, that's all.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Than the border guards won't mind driving the cars through....
      • 6 Years Ago
      The German Democratic Republic had this until 1990.
      • 6 Years Ago
      And I used to think the full-body scanner in "Total Recall" was cool.
      • 6 Years Ago
      They can X-ray a whole car, but I have to remove my laptop from my bag at the airport?
        • 6 Years Ago
        It's a matter of quantity, size, and materials. Laptops are changing to be more x-ray friendly, and a bomb can be made to resemble a hard drive.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Army has been using these at installations in Europe and in Iraq since 2003.
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