Delta funds new airline testing at RFID Lab

Delta Air Lines evidently has additional plans for RFID technology. Delta, the Delta Air Lines Foundation and the Jacobson Family Foundation granted $6.2 million to support multiple programs at Auburn University, including the school’s RFID Lab.

Auburn is the leading academic institution for RFID technology, conducting research on how specialized sensor technologies can have an impact on industries, including aviation, retail, supply chain and manufacturing.

The investment in the RFID Lab will provide a dedicated Delta Air Lines Aviation Sensor ID Bay to facilitate research and create an experiential learning center that will include executive, student and industry teaching capabilities.

In May of 2016, Delta invested $50 million into RFID baggage tracking technology to become the first U.S. carrier to provide customers with real-time tracking for their luggage. RFID will replace barcode scanning for the 120 million bags Delta handles annually.  With RFID, scanners use radio waves to capture data stored on an RFID chip embedded in the luggage tag.  At the time of the announcement, Delta had deployed 4,600 scanners, installed 3,800 RFID bag tag printers and integrated 600 pier and claim readers to enable hands-free scanning of baggage throughout the handling process.

“With a $50 million investment in RFID at 344 stations around the globe, we aim to reliably deliver every bag on every flight,” Bill Lentsch, Delta’s Senior Vice President – Airport Customer Service and Cargo Operations, said at the time.  “This innovative application of technology gives us greater data and more precise information throughout the bag’s journey.”

Delta’s funding at the RFID Lab will also establish lead resources for an aerospace consortium sponsored by Delta and create aerospace-focused student and faculty positions within the lab. Delta’s support will further the overall growth of RFID applications and contributions to sensor technology solutions across aviation to create the air travel experience of the future.

“We deeply appreciate Delta’s trust in Auburn’s research leadership and faith in our students,” said Justin Patton, RFID Lab director. “This gift will allow us to serve the aviation industry with research and advancements in maintenance and safety history, tracking passenger baggage and overall, in making air travel safer and more efficient.”