UA-developed avatar is helping to screen new arrivals at Bucharest airport

Jan 10, 2014 by Jay Nunamaker
The AVATAR uses non-invasive sensors to identify suspicious or irregular behavior that deserves further investigation and has the potential to greatly assist agents by serving as a force multiplier that frees personnel to focus on other mission-critical tasks. The technology also provides more accurate decision support and risk assessment.

(Phys.org) —Border police in Romania are testing a technology developed at the University of Arizona that uses a virtual border agent to question international travelers and flag those that give off suspicious vibes.

The screening system – called AVATAR, which is short for Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time – has been installed in a kiosk at Henri Coandă International Airport in Bucharest. The avatar conducts brief interviews with travelers right after they disembark from flights into Bucharest, monitoring respondents' body language and verbal replies to identify irregular behavior that warrants further investigation.

Speaking to travelers in their native languages, the asks country-specific visa questions while measuring behavior, physiology and verbal responses. After the interview, European Union Agency border guards are provided with interview summaries, which display on their tablets.

It's the first European of the system, which is being developed by The National Center for Border Security and Immigration, or BORDERS. The Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence comprised 18 premier institutions and is based at the UA. AVATAR also has been tested at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The screening technology could one day be used at land ports of entry, airports, detention centers and visa processing offices. Possible applications include a number of screening scenarios, such as trusted traveler application programs, personnel follow-up investigations, visa application reviews and other situations where truth assessment is a key concern.

The field test in Romania is sponsored and coordinated by Frontex, the European Union border-control agency, which has been working with BORDERS since 2010.

"The Romanian border police have been invaluable by providing access to their facilities, officers and cadets," said Elyse Golob, executive director of BORDERS. "We appreciate their willingness and foresight in allowing us to test the passport security of the future at their airport."

Border security experts from Romania and European Union Agency member states – including those specializing in fraudulent document detection and anti-trafficking – also are involved in the field test, as well as students from the Alexandru Ioan Cuza Police Academy and researchers and professors from European universities.

Results from the field test will be used to shape how the AVATAR system could be used in the future.

"We are thrilled to get the AVATAR into a real-world testing scenario and to see how people interact with the technology in an airport setting," said Jay Nunamaker, BORDERS director and principal investigator for AVATAR.

Explore further: Strong dollar means cross-border shopping heavily influenced by exchange rate

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Avatar may soon be keeping your safe in the skies

Mar 01, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Lie detection is coming to a whole new level. Soon we will not have to rely on the work of individual agents to figure out who is just trying to get on a plane and who is a criminal mastermind ...

Helping to curb illegal border crossings

Jun 05, 2013

Illegal border-crossings in Europe remain an on-going issue, with the latest figures estimated to be nearly 141 000 - up 35 % from previous years. However, the TALOS project has developed a system for transportable ...

NY suit challenging laptop searches is tossed

Jan 01, 2014

U.S. border agents should have the authority to search laptop computers carried by news photographers and other travelers at international border crossings without reasonable suspicion, a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled Friday.

Recommended for you

LiquidPiston unveils quiet X Mini engine prototype

Nov 21, 2014

LiquidPiston has a new X Mini engine which is a small 70 cubic centimeter gasoline powered "prototype. This is a quiet, four-stroke engine with near-zero vibration. The company said it can bring improvements ...

Novel robotic walker helps patients regain natural gait

Nov 21, 2014

Survivors of stroke or other neurological conditions such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries and Parkinson's disease often struggle with mobility. To regain their motor functions, these patients ...

Tomorrow's degradable electronics

Nov 20, 2014

When the FM frequencies are removed in Norway in 2017, all old-fashioned radios will become obsolete, leaving the biggest collection of redundant electronics ever seen – a mountain of waste weighing something ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.