​​​​Multilingual virtual assistant provides award-winning service to Minnesotans of all backgrounds

Sept. 14, 2023

​​​​​​​Three people on stage talking and seated audience members listening.Driver and Vehicle Services Director Pong Xiong (center) highlighted our community partnerships during the Google Cloud Partner Summit.

It can be a challenge to navigate getting your driver's license. You need to make sure you know the rules of the road, get your paperwork in order and meet all the licensing requirements.

It's even more diffic​ult if — like more than 10 percent of Minnesotans — English isn't your first language.

Our Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) division aims to answer questions from Minnesotans of all backgrounds through our multilingual virtual assistant, found in the bottom right corner of drive.mn.gov. The project was recognized last month with the Google Cloud Customer Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.​

“DVS recognized that this language barrier hindered groups' ability to obtain mandatory insurance and REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses, restricting their mobility and access to services," Google Public Sector Vice President Lynn Martin said. “This effort promotes equitable services for underserved Minnesotans, contributing to the creation of a Minnesota where everyone has an opportunity to thrive."

DVS Director Pong Xiong traveled to California to accept the award and share what we've learned since the assistant was launched earlier this year. As they told the audience at the Google Cloud Partner Summit, connecting with the communities that use the tool, both before and after the launch, is key to its success.

“Being nimble and flexible is important as we adjust to our customer's needs," Xiong said. “Our goal is to help all state residents know they matter as community members, and that state agencies are partners in building one Minnesota for people of all backgrounds."

The virtual assistant leverages Google artificial intelligence to make interactions with DVS better for English, Hmong, Somali and Spanish speaking customers. As of Sept. 7, people have used the virtual assistant 120,526 times. Customers can go to our website at any time and ask multiple questions in a chat session. They will receive answers to the most common questions DVS receives on any given day. Users can also update their insurance and obtain individualized records such as their driver's license status and status of their plates and title.

Here's how it works:

  • Click on the HELP chat bubble icon in the bottom right corner of drive.mn.gov.
  • Select preferred language — English, Español, Hmoob, or Af-Soomaali
  • Select one of the self-service topics:
    • FAQs
    • Update insurance
    • Driver's license status
    • Title status
    • Plate status
    • Vehicle sold/donated/removed
    • Submit feedback
  • Or enter a question in the response area below the response area at the bottom of chat window.

DVS is working to add to the virtual assistant, leveraging voice artificial intelligence technology, as well as more languages. Start your conversation on our website.