Cignal LLC Awarded Phase 3 Funding by DHS S&T SVIP

Cignal, a technology startup that develops advanced simulation and high-performance computing (HPC) environments to rapidly train Automated Threat Recognition (ATR) and artificial intelligence (AI) systems, announced recently that it was awarded Phase 3 project funding by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP).

In continued collaboration with S&T’s Screening at Speed Program, Cignal will test and validate the accuracy, utility, and realism of volumetric, synthetic X-ray computed tomography (CT) data that are generated within its platform, such as weapons, stream-of-commerce objects, and prohibited items. Cignal also will perform research and development into On-Person Screening (OPS) systems to identify a pathway for integrating millimeter wave (mmWave) transmission and simulation into Cignal’s patent-pending compute and rendering engine. These efforts are essential to Cignal’s goal of solving critical national security problems in aviation security and screening.

“We’ve developed the Cignal Engine to help the industry develop, train, and test advanced AI systems that improve detection while maintaining efficiency and speed at the checkpoint,” saidEric Fiterman, Cignal chief technology officer. “We’re pleased to continue our work with DHS S&T in our Phase 3 project, which allows us to build on our successes with checkpoint CT and apply them to OPS systems. This will provide comprehensive data services for additional checkpoint screening systems and more advanced detection models.”

During its Phase 3 project, Cignal will use the Cignal Engine, which is a flexible suite of HPC software components and environments that enable the dynamic training, evaluation, and deployment of next-generation ATR systems for emerging and complex threats. The Cignal Engine permits users to create new screening paradigms, digital twins, novel objects, and new AI and machine learning (ML) models to protect the public and critical infrastructure. Using this engine and its innovative compression techniques, Cignal created the industry’s first volumetric million-bag dataset with automated labels, which supports advanced X-ray and X-ray CT systems and AI/ML training for large-scale, trillion-parameter ATR models.

Advanced screening, inspection, and security ATR and AI systems need a constant source of balanced training datasets to deliver better detection capability and differentiate legitimate commerce from threats and illicit activity. However, data in these use cases typically resides in the non-visible spectra, such as X-ray, gamma ray, infrared, and mmWave. Traditionally, acquiring training or test data for these spectra is time-consuming and expensive, and it can easily exhaust memory, compute, and storage budgets. Cignal’s innovative approach to data creation allows these non-visible datasets to be generated, shared, and stored faster, with fewer limitations and at a greatly reduced cost, for device manufacturers, researchers, and government personnel responsible for securing ports, transportation infrastructure, mail and cargo systems, and more.

About Cignal LLC

Cignal LLC makes advanced simulation and high-performance computing environments to help next-generation Automated Threat Recognition systems, artificial intelligence models, and human screeners in protecting the public and critical infrastructure against emerging and complex threats. Cignal’s flexible engine for security, screening, and inspection can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or at the edge, and it provides users with full control over their data. Cignal LLC is headquartered in Central Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit www.cignal.co or contact innovation@cignal.co.

(Research reported in this press release was supported by the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate under Award Number 70RSAT22T00000014. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Department of Homeland Security.)


14 September 2022: Bronx

A woman from the Bronx who pled guilty to shoving a flight attendant and spitting on another passenger while on a flight from Los Angeles to Dallas last year, was sentenced to four months in prison, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona. Kelly Pichardo, 32, of The Bronx, pleaded guilty to a charge of interference with flight crew members following the 2021 flight during which she and co-defendant Leeza S. Rodriguez became unruly and violent while traveling as first-class passengers on an American Airlines flight. Pichardo was also sentenced to three years of supervised release. She was also fined $9,123 in restitution to American Airlines.


3 September 2022: Tupelo, Mississippi

A man was taken into custody and “being charged with grand larceny and making terroristic threats,” Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka said at a press conference Saturday 3 September. “We do anticipate that the federal government will proceed with federal charges in the very near future,” Quaka said. The man, an employee at a local airport, allegedly stole a twin-engine plane at the city’s airport early on Saturday, took off and then threatened to crash into a local Walmart. He eventually landed the aircraft in a field, the police chief said. The man was identified as Cory Wayne Patterson of Shannon, Mississippi. “We do not believe he is a licensed pilot. That is still ongoing to discover this,” the police chief said. The man had worked at Tupelo Aviation for 10 years as a lineman fueling aircraft, Quaka said.


22 August 2022: En Route From Seattle to San Diego

Alaska Airlines Flight 558 was diverted back to Seattle shortly after takeoff, according to a statement from the airline. The flight “reported an unusual vibration on the left side of the aircraft soon after departure,” a representative for Alaska Airlines said in the statement. “The aircraft returned to the airport and landed safely.” It was in the air for less than 30 minutes and it was determined that part of the cowling had detached from the engine, the airline said.


7 September 2022: Toronto from Saskatoon

Air Canada flight AC1934 en route to Toronto from Saskatoon had to make an emergency stop in Winnipeg so that two out of control passengers could be removed by police. According to the RCMP, Winnipeg Airport police were alerted to two disruptive passengers on board the flight. The two male passengers were reportedly intoxicated, disruptive and refused to follow the crew’s directions.


17 August 2022: En Route From Neward to Costa Rica

An unruly passenger caused a United Airlines flight from Newark Liberty Intl. to divert to a Virginia airport while flying to Costa Rica, officials said. United flight 1080 departed Newark airport around 8:30 a.m. and diverted to Dulles Intl. Airport in Virginia, where the plane landed around 11 a.m. The aircraft continued to the gate and the disruptive customer was removed, according to a statement from United Airlines.


11 September 2022: Richmond, Virginia

A North Carolina resident was arrested by the police after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Richmond International Airport caught him with a loaded handgun in his carry-on bag yesterday (Sept. 11), on the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The .45 caliber handgun was loaded with five bullets including one in the chamber. TSA officers stopped the man when his carry-on bag triggered an alarm in the security checkpoint X-ray unit. Upon spotting the weapon, TSA alerted airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the handgun and arrested the man.


22 August 2022: Atlanta, Georgia

A woman shot and killed two people in Midtown Atlanta. A third person was injured. The woman fled and a huge police search ensued. Raissa Djuissi Kengne was later arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Police officers recovered a semiautomatic handgun and did not immediately discuss a possible motive. “We do not believe these were random acts of violence,” Darin Schierbaum, interim chief of the Atlanta Police Department, said at a news conference that day. “We believe individuals were likely targeted that were harmed today.” Mayor Andre Dickens said “strong coordination and professionalism” of law enforcement agencies and the “vital support and information from the public” helped the police find the woman. The police added the “extensive camera network” in the area had also been instrumental in the search. “I want to state clearly that the security of the airport was never compromised,” Mayor Dickens said at a news conference. “The suspect was apprehended prior to being in any controlled areas of the airport.”


30 April 2022: Over France

Two ITA pilots allegedly fell asleep en route from New York City to Rome in May. The plane, an Airbus A330 at 38,000 feet, was transporting around 250 passengers when air traffic control tried to make contact with the pilots. They got no response for more than ten minutes. One pilot was reportedly on a designated sleeping break but the airplane’s captain fell asleep too, according to the investigators. ATC became concerned and started to scramble fighter jets in case of terrorist involvement, but they were eventually able to get an answer. French military fighter jets were deployed at 3:56am, to do a wellness check on the plane and look into the cockpit, according to reports. At 4:02am the pilots once again became responsive. ITA Airways (formerly Alitalia), said the captain reported that the radios stopped working. Investigators found “strong inconsistencies between the statements made by the captain and the outcome of the internal investigation,” according to a statement. The plane did land safely at its destination.


3 June 2022: Charlotte, North Carolina

A man, 22-year-old Alexander A. Lopez-Morel, a lawful permanent resident of the United States arrived in Charlotte on a flight from the Dominican Republic but was shortly thereafter when he was stopped in the airport with more than 23 pounds of cocaine. The drugs were hidden in the seat cushions of a motorized wheelchair. The man had arrived at Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport from the Dominican Republic. His answers didn’t match up. His physical purported handicap did not match up. That was a telltale sign that there was something suspicious,” said Mike Prado, Homeland Security Investigations deputy on WSOC-TV, a local television interview.