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AI biosecurity officer now on duty at Auckland Airport

A digital biosecurity officer has started working at Auckland Airport with the goal of helping international visitors.

Her name is Vai, which stands for Virtual Assistant Interface.

MPI detection technology manager Brett Hickman says, “The idea is for her to take some of the load off MPI officers during peak times by assisting staff with answering queries.

“This is about using technology to allow officers to focus on their important role of keeping pests and diseases out of New Zealand.”

Vai can answer simple biosecurity questions such as what items need to be declared for inspection and can provide help with directions around the airport.

MPI started trialling Vai last week in the airport’s biosecurity arrivals area to see whether she will become a permanent staff member.

The proof-of-concept trial uses biometric technology to interact with passengers.

Hickman continues, “Vai uses a database of queries and answers that is constantly updated through her interactions.”

“MPI is always looking for innovative ways, including emerging technologies, to improve the customer experience for arriving passengers and to increase their biosecurity awareness.”

The technology behind her human appearance is similar to what is used in the gaming and movie industry.

Westpac's Innovation Fund has supported the development of Vai. 

FaceMe, a New Zealand-based company specialising in artificial intelligence, has provided the technology.

FaceMe is also working on another AI for ASB.

 She has been designed to assist SME business owners with setting up a business.

Due for a mid-2018 launch, Josie is in her final stages of development with the bank now seeking input from SME business owners ahead of her first day at work.

Much like the human mind, Josie's knowledge will develop with information through human interactions over time.

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