Humanoid robot to help bank clients

IRA

The next time you step into the Koramangala branch of HDFC Bank, IRA will greet you, answer all your bank-related queries, and will even guide you to the relevant counter.

IRA (Intelligent Robotic Assistant) is an interactive humanoid robot that can answer 4,000 questions through voice-based navigation.

HDFC Bank on Thursday launched the new avatar IRA 2.0. The first version was launched in January last year at one of its branches in Mumbai and it is now stationed at the Palarivattom Branch in Kochi.

“This is an updated version and it is exclusive for this branch. While in the first version, interaction happened through touch screen, in this new avatar, customers can interact with IRA and it also answers their queries,” Nitin Chugh, country head-Digital Banking, HDFC Bank said.

IRA 2.0 has been developed by the bank in collaboration with Bengaluru-based robotics companies Invento Makerspaces and Senseforth Technologies.

“It interfaces with customers and communication happens both ways. One can ask questions like interest rates for home loan, personal loan, IFSC code of a particular branch etc,” Chugh said.

IRA 2.0 has a 7.9-inch tablet display for visual interaction with customers, and it has an inbuilt indoor GPS-based navigation module with ultrasonic sensors to help it move inside the branch.

Going forward, there will be some level of personalisation like customers can ask balance enquiry, mini statement, address change request and so on. 

The bank also launched its virtual assistant 'EVA' on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. "EVA (Electronic Virtual Assistant) is the largest banking bot, as it has answered close to 65 lakh queries till now," he said.

Digital transformation has changed the banking industry and more banks are now adopting this transformation by including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

HDFC Bank is not alone in introducing humanoid robots in its branch operations. In July last year, Bengaluru-based public sector lender Canara Bank launched Candi, a humanoid robot. Compared to IRA, Candi is smaller and can't navigate around the branch.

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