Gareth Joyce, the airline's senior vice president of airport customer service and cargo, said the machines will free agents "to seek out travelers and deliver more proactive and thoughtful customer service". A camera in the machine will match the picture on the passport to the passenger.
Four new self-service bag drop kiosks will be installed in Minneapolis, but only one will include the facial recognition software. Previous self-service innovations like ticketing kiosks and check-in via the Fly Delta Mobile app have transformed congested lobby areas and drastically improved customer satisfaction scores.
Passengers without passports would still be able to check their own bags, but would need an agent to confirm their identities.
"This trial reflects our ongoing efforts to take an innovative approach to enhancing the travel experience for all Delta customers", the airline said in a statement.
Delta will be collecting customer feedback during the process to gauge how it will expand the service to other airports in the future, a spokesperson said.
The facial recognition portion of the bag check stations is the first of its kind in the U.S., Delta said in a press release.
The experimental self-service system will allow customers to completely bypass human Delta employees, which the airline believes can double the number of passengers processed in an hour. It comes after the carrier a year ago rolled out radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that allows the carrier to track bags in real-time via chips included in fliers' bag tags.
Facial recognition is also coming to some airports in the form of Biometric Exit, a federal program that checks the identities of visa-holders leaving the US.