Tesla’s Manufacturing Complexity to Blame for Thin Profit Margins, Says Analyst

Sandy Munro, a manufacturing analyst who criticized Tesla's Model 3 after performing a teardown earlier this year, has broken his silence over the electric sedan once again reports Bloomberg. After spending 6,600 hours going over a Model 3 with a fine-toothed comb, Munro has his fair share of both compliments and concerns over the electric sedan, however, is most critical over the automaker's manufacturing process.

Piece by piece, Munro and his team ripped apart a Model 3 in a Detroit warehouse, taking notes along the way. After itemizing the cost of materials required to produce the Model 3, Munro estimates that it may only cost around $2,000 more to source parts than what it takes to build the BMW i3. Tesla's major expenses are believed to stem from the automaker's "unconventional" choices surrounding the production of the sedan.

“This body is their single biggest problem,” said Munro in an interview with Bloomberg. “It’s killing them.”

Tesla holds itself in high regards for topping the NHTSA's safety charts, which it does by making sophisticated engineering and design choices. However, Munro believes that there are also unnecessary steps taken with some reinforcements on the Model 3. Instead of adding an additional steel and aluminum frame on the bottom of the Model 3, the analyst believes that an adequate structural rigidity is already being produced with the battery pack that resides in the floor of the vehicle.

Structural decisions can be seen in a still captured from a video released to highlight the Model 3's safety.

Further discoveries on the underside of the car attributed to Munro's diagnosis of over-manufacturing. The trunk well, where many automakers previously kept a spare tire, is made from multiple pieces of aluminum (nine in total) held together with welds and rivets.

“If that car was made anywhere else, and Elon wasn’t part of the manufacturing process, they would make a lot of money,” Munro continued in his interview with Bloomberg, “They’re just learning all the old mistakes everyone else made years ago.”

Earlier this year, after Munro publicly critiqued the Model 3's design, he reportedly had spoken with CEO Elon Musk and others at Tesla on a conference call. When certain complications were brought to Tesla's attention, Musk reportedly admitted to Munro that at least one undisclosed engineer was fired over decisions pertaining to the design of the Model 3. According to Bloomberg, Tesla says that its manufacturing process had changed since Munro's benchmark vehicle was produced.

Ultimately, Munro believes that the $49,000 Model 3 costs Tesla only $34,700 in materials to build. This indicates the potential for a maximum of a 29% premium on top of the manufacturer's raw cost, which, of course, is lessened by other expenses such as research and development, labor, as well as logistics, which are not included in Munro's overall estimate.

Despite the criticism of the manufacturing decisions, the analyst commends the Model 3's technological advancements. Not only was the software far superior to other options on the market, but so are some of the technology-related engineering decisions found in the car.

What truly sets Tesla apart is the automaker's advanced electric motors. Munro explains that he believes Tesla's motor costs nearly 10 percent less than the competition and are better engineered than what can be found in similar electric cars, such as the Chevy Bolt. Earlier this week, Tesla showed off a drive unit in seemingly pristine condition which Musk claims the unit had driven one million miles and was designed for "ultra high endurance".

One unconventional decision that was praised in the vehicle analysis was Tesla's reduced use of complex wiring. The automaker has greatly reduced the number of wiring runs throughout the car by using circuit boards instead of cumbersome wiring layouts, bringing down both material and labor cost, as well as lowering complexity by sprinkling silicon valley magic into Detroit-style vehicle engineering.

Munro reportedly sent Tesla a list of 227 suggested improvements on the Model 3's manufacturing process, but also noted a need for the company to make changes in its staff to become and remain profitable. If Tesla focuses on hiring staff that has experience in the auto industry instead of the technology sector, the automaker may very well be on its way to consistently posting profits.

Porsche Taycan Price to Land Somewhere Between Cayenne and Panamera

Porsche's upcoming all-electric sedan is nearing production, but one unknown remains; its price. According to Automotive News Europe, Porsche intends to price the Tesla-targeted vehicle between the cost of its currently offered SUV and performance sedan.

“We’re expecting a price somewhere between a Cayenne and a Panamera,” said Porsche's model line director for the Taycan, Robert Meier.

The Cayenne costs 74,828 Euros in Germany, whereas the Panamera is priced at 90,665 Euros. If the same pricing model is applied to the U.S. market, it could be expected to place the Taycan at a less expensive target, somewhere in the $65,700 to $85,000 range. The higher figure is exactly in line with the previous speculation of the Taycan's expected launch pricing. If Porsche instead bases the cost on conversion rates, consumers could expect to pay as much as $105,000.

Of course, that would be the cost of a base model Taycan. Lutz Meschke, Porsche's Chief Financial Officer, told journalists that the automaker was also exploring offering high performance and long-range versions of the Taycan that could be priced as high as 200,000 Euros. In the U.S., a fully loaded top-of-the-line Panamera 4S Executive with options can reach the upper ranges of $160,000.

The lower end of the pricing spectrum puts the Taycan directly in competition with Tesla's luxury electric sedan, the Model S, which stars at $77,000 and can cost as much as $147,000 depending on the selected battery capacity and optional equipment. Where Porsche's claim to fame begins is in its charging system.

Porsche says that the Taycan's 800-volt charging system will allow vehicles to accept a charging rate of up to 350 kilowatt-hours, meaning that an 80 percent capacity charge could be achieved in as little as 15 minutes. However, even though the German automaker is looking to begin putting up these ultra-fast chargers around the nation, it won't have the current advantage of Tesla's densely populated Supercharging network.

Overall, the automaker believes that it will build around 20,000 units of the Taycan annually, however, if demand is greater, Porsche says that it could expand this even further. This could potentially lead to an annual revenue of over $1.7 billion on Taycan sales alone, making Porsche's initial $7.4 billion electrification investment seem like chump change.

Canada’s First Vehicular Cannabis Citation Issued One Hour After Legalization

Just one hour after Canada's legalization of recreational cannabis, police in Winnipeg issued the nation's first known citation for toking and driving, the police department confirmed Wednesday.

At around 1 a.m. on Oct. 17, a police officer pulled over a vehicle and determined the occupants to have been consuming the newly legalized substance while driving on a major roadway. Similar to alcohol, recently legalized cannabis is not permitted to be consumed while driving.

Police were not able to determine if the cannabis was legally purchased, nor did they deem it worth investigating. Although the plant's flower and edibles created through processing are now legal to consume, it must be purchased through a licensed dispensary. Additionally, only 120 companies nationwide are licensed to cultivate and process the plants that are sold to regulated dispensaries before reaching the hands of consumers. Police believe that a strong probability exists that the cannabis found during this stop was illegally obtained given the one-hour discrepancy between legalization and discovery.

"If somebody has an edible in a car and we can prove it, that's also an offense," said Gord Spado, Winnipeg Police Service traffic division Inspector. "Sometimes we can, sometimes we can't. And when edibles are legally produced commercially, then it might be a little bit easier because there'll be packaging and things that might be visible."

It is important to note that cannabis may not be stored at an accessible place in a vehicle while the car is in motion on a public road. Later on Wednesday, Ontario Provincial Police cited another driver for that very offense.

According to CBC, the following fines exist for individuals in Canada for vehicular-related cannabis offenses:

  • $672: Consuming cannabis in or on a vehicle on a highway
  • $672: Consuming cannabis in or on off-road vehicle
  • $237: Driver carrying cannabis in or on a vehicle (ie: not in the trunk; same fine for off-road vehicles)

In Canada, driving with more than 5 nanograms of THC in the bloodstream is considered to be similar to an alcohol-related DUI charge. The first offense comes with a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000, and a second offense is a minimum of 30 days imprisonment. Police can order an oral sample or field sobriety test should they be suspicious of a driver.

13-Year-Old Steals Mom’s BMW Then Get’s Public Spanking on the Side of the Road

When 13-year-old Aaron Campero of El Paso, Texas took his mother’s BMW 3 Series for a joyride Friday, he probably didn’t think the drive would end with a serious spanking in public.

According to his sister Lisa’s Twitter feed, Campero’s first step was to turn the Wi-Fi off in order to shut the exterior cameras off at the house. Once the coast was clear, he took his mother’s car to pick up some friends and a girl to cruise around with. When Campero’s mom found out what happened and who took her Bimmer, both Campero’s mom and sister took off in another vehicle to track him down.

Fortunately for us, Campero’s sister made sure to capture the entire episode in real time. The progression from genuine concern to serious anger once Campero’s safety was confirmed is swift and incredible to watch. In the first video, you can hear Campero’s mom speak with the mother of Campero’s girlfriend who decided to join him on his dangerous—and illegal drive. They sound calm, organized, and ready to take action.

Campero’s mother then called her husband to tell him fill him in on the situation. You can hear them both fret over how bold their son was to disconnect the internet in order for him to steal the car. In the grand finale, Campero gets caught, yelled at to pull over, and spanked on the side of the road with a belt his mom commanded his sister to bring along.

The videos have since gone viral, garnering over 140,000 likes in at the time of this post. Campero’s sister is taking full advantage of this newfound fame by tweeting about her eyelash extension business and asking to get meet and greet passes for Russ’ concert in Phoenix this November.

Meanwhile, her little brother is grounded—to say the least. Campero’s sister said her little brother had his electronics taken away, including his Playstation 4. While his parents made an exception and allowed him to take his girlfriend to homecoming, the girl’s parents refused to let their daughter go after hearing about Campero’s mischievous escapades. On the bright side, Campero has been forever immortalized in internet history as the 13-year-old kid who stole his mom’s car and subsequently got a public flogging.

USAF Frantically Stole Parts From One RC-135 To Get Another Airborne To Spy On A Missile Launch

It’s no secret that the U.S. Air Force’s aging, but vital RC-135 spy planes have been breaking down at an increasingly a worrisome rate for years now, often forcing the cancellation of important missions. Now, information from a declassified official unit history provides an especially clear example of how these problems can have cascading impacts on operational readiness and put the U.S. military’s ability to gather critical intelligence at risk when it matters most.

In 2016, one of the Air Force’s three RC-135S Cobra Ball aircraft suffered an unspecified maintenance issue while deployed to RAF Mildenhall in the United Kingdom. This would have rendered it unable to perform its scheduled mission, which was to collect information on the launch of an unknown ballistic missile system. The Cobra Ball aircraft have specialized equipment to track these types of weapons and gather telemetry and other electronic intelligence data, as well as visual imagery on them and their test flight operations.

“The required part would not have arrived at RAF Mildenhall before the predicted missile launch window,” the 2016 history for the 25th Air Force, the Air Force’s top intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance unit, explained. “If the new part could be found by cannibalizing another RC-135 or KC-135 air refueling aircraft, then the mission could proceed.”

We at The War Zone obtained this document via the Freedom of Information Act. Censors redacted the exact date of the incident, the target of the RC-135S’ mission, and what intelligence the crew was ultimately able to collect.

One of the Air Force's three RC-135S Cobra Ball aircraft.

What we do know is that the Cobra Ball was able to fly its mission, in the end, thanks to some quick thinking on the part of U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Michael Smith, a liaison from the 25th Air Force’s Logistics Division. He was the one who the history credits with suggesting that maintenance crews take the necessary parts from another C-135-based aircraft to get the RC-135S flying again.

In the end, Air Force officials agreed to have personnel strip the required components out of an RC-135V/W Rivet Joint signals intelligence aircraft that was also at Mildenhall at the time. We don’t know whether or not maintenance personnel swapped the parts back after the RC-135S returned to base.

The internal history does make it clear that the 25th Air Force was very proud of how its airmen handled this incident. The specific section is titled “625 OC [Operations Center] Saves RC-13SS Cobra Ball Mission.”

The entry from the 25th Air Force history for 2016 covering the RC-135S mission in question.

But, while it clearly allowed the Air Force to gather significant information on a rocket or missile launch, the entire incident highlights the challenges and tough decisions that the sorry state of the RC-135 fleet imposes on the service. In 2016 alone, the 55th Wing as a whole had to abort more than 500 missions due to maintenance issues, according to an investigative series the Omaha World Herald published in June 2018. This unit oversees the Cobra Balls and Rivet Joints, as well as the RC-135U Combat Sent electronic intelligence platforms, OC-135B Open Skies surveillance aircraft, and WC-135W Constant Phoenix nuclear intelligence planes.

The RC-135V/W that sacrificed its mission readiness to so the RC-135S could fly its sortie had been scheduled to perform a flight of its own that day. That got pushed back 24 hours as a result of the need to get the Cobra Ball airborne.

There’s no way of telling what intelligence the Rivet Joint might have missed by not flying its scheduled mission. Operating from bases in Europe, these aircraft typically monitor Russia’s heavily militarized Kaliningrad enclave on the Baltic Sea and other parts of NATO’s eastern flank.

RC-135V/Ws deployed to Mildenhall often fly further on to Naval Support Activity Souda Bay on the Greek island of Crete, where they fly important missions in the Black Sea, monitoring Russia’s activities in and around Ukraine’s Crimea region, and the Eastern Mediterranean, often operating off the coast of Syria. A Rivet Joint flying from Greece helped gather information on air defenses in Syria ahead of a U.S.-led cruise missile barrage against Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad’s chemical weapons infrastructure in April 2018.

These missions are often critical and time sensitive. The scramble to get the RC-135S up in the air in 2016 was itself driven by new intelligence that indicated the target’s launch time had gotten pushed up. The low availability rates within the small RC-135 fleet make it hard to ensure the jets are ready to respond to these kinds of changes on short notice to begin with.

It’s also important to note that while cannibalization is rife across the U.S. military’s aviation communities that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a sustainable practice. The potential pitfalls are magnified when dealing with low density, high-value assets such as the RC-135S aircraft. The plan worked in 2016, but the Air Force simply can’t rely on there always being another aircraft on hand to strip of necessary parts. Even if there is, there is no guarantee that maintenance personnel will be able to have a broken plane ready exactly when it’s needed.

Air Force ground crew personnel inspect one of the engines on an RC-135S Cobra Ball.

Collection demands, especially when it comes to rocket and missile launches, are only likely to have increased since 2016, as well. Even when they’re all working fine, the three Cobra Balls have to contend with the U.S. governments desire to monitor an increasing number of Russian, Chinese, North Korean, and Iranian ballistic missile developments and contend with the growing proliferation of such systems elsewhere. In the past, Cobra Balls have even flown missions to monitor American allies and partners, such as India, Israel, and Pakistan, as they conducted their own missile launches.

It’s not clear when the state of the RC-135 fleet, in part or as a whole, might improve, but Air Force has been under increasing pressure from Congress to take action to rectify low availability rates and other readiness issues across the service. A spate of serious and often fatal aircraft accidents in 2018 has also been driving demands from legislators and the general public for the service to do some critical introspection into how it operates. Lawmakers did include more than $600 million specifically to support the 55th Wing’s C-135-based aircraft in the most recent defense budget for the 2019 Fiscal year, as well.

At the same time, the Air Force also has no firm plan about how it would go about actually replacing the RC-135s. The service expects to keep the planes flying through at least 2050.

In the meantime, the 55th Wing may well have to continue swapping parts between RC-135s to at least try to ensure they meet the highest priority collection requirements.

Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com

Lt. Col. Seth ‘Jethro’ Nehring Was USAF F-15 Pilot Who Died In Su-27 Crash In Ukraine

The U.S. Air Force has identified its pilot who died when a Ukranian Air Force Su-27UB Flanker he was riding in crashed on Oct. 16, 2018. The mishap occurred during a familiarization flight as part of Exercise Clear Sky 2018. A Ukrainian pilot was also killed in the incident.

Statements from both U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), which is responsible for all Air Force operations in Europe, and the Office of California Governor Edmund Brown, identified the American aviator as U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Seth "Jethro" Nehring, a 44-year old F-15 Eagle pilot from Fresno, California who was assigned to the California Air National Guard's 194th Fighter Squadron, part of the 144th Fighter Wing. The U.S. and Ukrainian governments are continuing to investigate the incident.

"This is a sad day for the United States and Ukraine," Major General Clay Garrison, the head of the California Air National Guard and the top officer in charge of Clear Sky 2018, said in a USAFE press release. "Our deepest condolences go out to the family, friends and fellow Airmen of both the U.S. Airman and Ukrainian aviator who were killed in the incident."

"On behalf of all Californians, Governor Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown honor California Air National Guard Lt. Col. Seth 'Jethro' Nehring, who bravely gave his life in service to our state and nation," the release from Governor Brown's office read. "The Governor and First Lady extend their deepest condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time."

A Ukranian Su-27UB like the one Lieutenant Colonel Seth

Clear Sky 2018 has otherwise been an immensely significant event for the pilots from the 144th Fighter Wing, who are among the approximately 950 personnel from nine countries, including the United States, who are taking part in the exercise. It is the first time ever that the unit has brought its F-15C Eagles to Ukraine and is the first time the Air Force has deployed this kind of aircraft to the country since 1998, according to Military.com.

Our deepest condolences to Jethro's family and friends.

We will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com

Brutal Fight Breaks out in Texas Over Parking Spot

Security footage of a violent parking lot altercation in San Antonio, Texas in September has found its way online. The fight depicted between a man who believed his parking spot was unfairly nabbed by a Lexus RX owner and her daughter is quite brutal. According to Auto Evolution, it has cleared up some previous confusion regarding the incident’s chain of events.

Norma Lozano parked her Lexus and exited the vehicle, leaving daughter Anjelica waiting in the back seat. As you can see from the footage posted on LiveLeak, the yet unidentified Ford Expedition owner had been attempting to back into that same spot.

Feeling slighted at getting his perceived spot taken, he left his Expedition to confront Lozano. She thought nothing of it and shrugged him off and walked away. The man started kicking Lozano’s Lexus, unaware her daughter Anjelica was sitting inside and watched the entire thing progress.

Anjelica got out of the car, followed the aggressor, and threw the first punch as he walked away. The man then punched, kicked, and slammed Anjelica against the adjacent vehicle. The fight moved into the street, where he threw her violently against the pavement.

Looking at a photo in FOX29's initial reporting of the incident, it appears Anjelica sustained several injuries. They included bruises on her face and scrapes on her arms. The newly released footage, however, cleared up a misconception from that same article which stated the man shifted from kicking the car to punching the daughter in the face, leaving out that she threw the first punch.

As onlookers began to notice the violent commotion occur outside of the Golden Wok restaurant, they huddled around Anjelica and moved toward the man and his vehicle. Unfortunately, he was able to drive off without an issue. As it stands, the man has yet to be identified.

Workhorse Goes Into Production on Lightweight, Electric NGEN-1000 Delivery Van

Workhorse announced Wednesday that the lightweight, all-electric NGEN-1000 delivery van is set to begin production, according to a company press release via PR Newswire.

The vehicle’s curb weight (weight without cargo) is 4,000 pounds, which is reportedly less than half of conventional diesel vans, and it retains the same 1,000-cubic-foot payload volume for cargo materials. Workhorse is confident that the reduced weight and 100-mile range will substantially shift the electric delivery vehicle industry in the company’s favor. Additionally, the NGEN-1000 is set to have four different sizes for consumers: 250, 450, 700, and 1,000-cubic-foot varieties.

“For as long as I can remember, we’ve been discussing what the future of delivery looks like and what role electric vehicles will play in that,” said Workhorse CEO Stephen S. Burns. “We are proud to say—the future is here. With an off-the-lot cost on par with traditional delivery vehicles, and substantial savings from there, we believe the NGEN will forever change the business of delivery as we know it.”

The NGEN-1000 currently uses a smaller battery pack than its previous iteration, which drastically helped reduce the vehicle’s weight. The vehicle will be produced at Workhorse’s Midwest plant, and will feature a grill-less front to distinguish it from its diesel peers. Additionally, the NGEN-1000 will have all-wheel drive, a 6,000-pound weight cargo capacity, and feature a low floor ground clearance to provide easier cargo loading and unloading.

The company has grown quite a bit in recent years. It made a first manned flight at CES last year and it’s working on the W-15 electric pickup truck. The fact that Workhorse has taken on yet another substantial project like the NGEN-1000 and entered initial production is a strong sign that the proper backing, confidence, and direction is present on the ground floor. For now, all we can do is wait for the first production models to be completed, so we can judge for ourselves just how convenient and impressive this new endeavor turned out to be.

Recently, The Drive visited Workhorse’s New York City event and got to see the company’s SureFly passenger drone first-hand. Speaking to Burns and sitting inside the drone’s cockpit affirmed this company is on the verge of producing some impressive, tangible results.

2018 Audi R8 V-10 Plus Competition Package: A Spicy-Looking Track Slayer

Year, Make, Model: 2018 Audi R8 V10 Plus Coupe Competition Package

Topline: Audi will bring just 10 of the special-edition R8 V10 Plus Coupe with the Competition Package to the United States.

2018 Audi R8 V10 Plus Coupe Competition Package

What's New: Every one of the 10 cars bears identical Suzuka Grey paint with the black exterior detail package, which trims the grille and vents with black outlines. Leather adorns the interior, where bucket seats with red stitching cup the driver in place, and a 13-speaker, 550-watt Bang & Olufsen stereo system does its best to drown out the R8's 5.2-liter V-10, which is nearly identical to the one found in the Lamborghini Huracan. Seeing as the V-10 kicks up 610 horsepower—455 kW—it shouldn't have a problem overriding the stereo.

What's different about the Competition Package isn't to be found in the powertrain. Instead, Audi obsessively cut weight wherever possible. Milled 20-inch alloy wheels like those found on the R8 GT4 cut 26.4 pounds total, and carbon-ceramic brake pads with titanium backing plates lose another 2.2 pounds. A three-way adjustable coilover suspension allows setup adjustment to fit any track to which you could take the Competition Package R8.

No supercar can be had without enough carbon fiber to armor an elephant, however, and this R8 is no different. The following aero components are all functional, and all carbon fiber: Front splitter, canards, side sills, rear diffuser, rear wing. The aero bits may raise the R8's drag coefficient from 0.36 to 0.42, making it a less-suitable road car, but they double the R8's downforce generation to 115 pounds at 150 kph (93 mph), and at the R8's top speed of 196 mph, downforce reaches 551 pounds.

What You Need to Know: With only 10 Competition Package cars coming stateside, prospective buyers will need to transfer $237,350 (the car's MSRP) into their checking accounts while supplies last. Be in line at an Audi dealer in November when the cars become available to secure one.

TSA Expands Facial Recognition to Automate Bag Drop, ID Verification, and Flight Boarding

The TSA released its proposal to expand facial recognition on Monday. The program outlines the administration’s intended proliferation of facial recognition across U.S. airports later this month between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta Air Lines, the TSA, and Customs and Border Protection. They will collaborate to launch the world’s first biometric terminal using facial recognition to automate the entire travel experience, from self-service bag drop to ID verification and boarding an airplane.

Its “Biometrics Roadmap for Aviation Security and the Passenger Experience” is an effort to increase security, travel efficiency, and convenience. According to the TSA, the plan is rooted in working with the CBP agency using biometrics on international travelers; enhancing the travel experience for TSA Pre members via facial recognition; expanding biometrics to additional domestic travelers; and developing a cohesive infrastructure to actually process and support the requisite biometric technology and data.

“With the threat to aviation evolving every day, developing the next generation of security technology with our industry partners is critically important,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “By expanding our use of biometrics, TSA secures its position as a global leader in aviation security and advances global transportation security standards.”

Biometrics are essentially any metrics related to physical human characteristics that can be used to identify them. These could include techniques as old as taking someone’s fingerprints and matching them, to the more advanced retina scans and the contemporary high-tech facial recognition software we’re seeing today.

Currently, the TSA mainly relies on visually identifying travelers and verifying passports. Retina scans and fingerprint matching are slowly but surely expanding into select airports. Facial recognition seems to be the next logical step in terms of tech advancement and those in charge of security looking to move forward. For travelers, of course, the added convenience of a more speedy airport experience could make the biometric process a favorable alternative to current airport procedures.

In case you’re skeptical that this will reach actual implementation, the TSA has already started testing facial recognition. Last year, the administration worked with CBP at John F. Kennedy International Airport to test biometrics on international travelers. This was expanded to Los Angeles International Airport earlier this year. The CBP’s technology can match faces to photos in government databases, such as images from visa applications or passports, to both confirm identities and lessen the need for physical documentation.

The TSA began taking fingerprints of TSA Pre members at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Denver International Airport in 2017. The system basically matches the fingerprints TSA Pre members provided to the agency with those taken at security checkpoints, thereby quickly confirming that travelers are who they say they are. As of last month, anyone who applies for a TSA Pre membership or decides to renew it is required to provide the administration with a photo. This will allow the TSA to test its new facial recognition system at select airports across the country, once the number of enrolled participants is big enough to sensibly do so.

“By testing biometrics technology in the airport environment, TSA hopes to increase security effectiveness and stay ahead of the threat,” said Pekoske. “We will continue to leverage our partnerships to deliver enhanced capabilities to checkpoint lanes throughout the country.”

In an era where technology often surpasses the legislative frameworks in place to properly assess how to use it before implementation, facial recognition is a big topic of discussion. It was only recently that the American Civil Liberties Union spoke out against unmanned aerial vehicles at civil demonstrations, as the fear of facial recognition software and its potential to be used against citizens is now no longer entirely unfounded. Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see how the TSA’s new biometric expansion will affect travelers and their notions of civil liberties and security. Stay tuned.