Planes, trains and automobiles

Not to mention ports, subways and buses. Here, the technologies that will soon safeguard your travel plans

The future of secure travel hinges on seamless, instant communicationand 24/7 autonomous surveillance. Smart sensors will wirelessly monitor the engines of tomorrow s buses for signs of tampering. Toxin detectors will sniff future trains and subways for airborne toxins, then alert the authorities long before passengers do. Radio transponders will constantly track the whereabouts of luggage, keeping it out of nefarious hands. In-flight cabin cams will transmit real-time images of the shady guy in row 13G to ground control. In other words, wherever you go, the Department of Homeland Security will go with you.

Luggage
Radio tags attached to luggage keep tabs on your bags while automated bomb-detection devices check them for explosives. Such tags are already in use at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

Puffers
New passenger-screening devices installed at 26 airports use blasts of air to dislodge tiny particles on clothing and identify nitrate-based explosives in seconds.

Buses
Sensors attached to engines pick up signs of trouble long before a bomb goes off. Field trials of the sensors are now under way in St. Louis, Missouri.

Subways
Detectors linked by fiber-optic cables to a central command post sniff for the release of deadly pathogens. A pilot system is in operation in Washington, D.C.

Cargo
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s “nuclear car wash” uses a neutron beam to detect gamma rays that may be emanating from cargo containers.

Radical Radar
A nationwide network of radar stations now in the works by the defense firm Raytheon transmits data anything from the location of a hijacked plane to images of suspicious passengers to pilots and ground crews anywhere in the U.S.

Smart Walls
Airports will be ringed by electronic security systems that will include sensor-packed fences, motion detectors and surveillance cameras. Raytheon will install such systems at New York’s four major airports in 2008.

**Laser Guards /strong>
Infrared lasers mounted to a jet’s fuselage deflect heat-seeking missiles. One system is currently in tests on an American Airlines 767.