New Zealand Police recruits an AI cop to its force
The New Zealand Police has recruited its first AI cop called Ella, who is a life-like virtual assistant that uses real-time animation to emulate face-to-face interaction in an empathetic way.
Ella will report to her duty from next Monday, when she will be stationed in the lobby of the force’s national headquarters in Wellington. Her chief duties there will be to welcome visitors to the building, telling staff that they have arrived, and directing them to collect their passes. It can also talk to visitors about certain issues, such as the force’s non-emergency number and police vetting procedures.
Ella’s future on the force will be evaluated after three months on the job.
“Her capabilities are basic at this stage as she is a proof of concept, but we see some real benefits of digital person technology if we can equip the AI with more knowledge and capabilities, and it can learn from more interactions,” said New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush.
Homegrown tech firms Intela AI and Soul Machines led the AI and digital human development of Ella. They programmed it to use voice, tone and body language to deliver a one-on-one service.
Ella won’t be patrolling the streets of Wellington, neither will she be replacing human officers. But Commissioner Bush believes that if Ella does a good job, it could be handed a range of new responsibilities in the future.