Amazon is deploying AI cameras to surveil delivery drivers ‘100% of the time’
Amazon has been criticized for its extensive monitoring of workers and its poor safety record.
Patrick Fallon / Getty Images
Amazon is introducing AI-powered cameras in its delivery vehicles to keep a closer eye on drivers.
The four-camera system will use machine learning to identify unsafe behaviors like distracted driving and exceeding speeding and then issue verbal warnings to drivers, the company said in an instructional video first reported by The Information.
Amazon said in the video that the cameras are designed to improve security. An issue the company faced after multiple research found that its focus on speed resulted in at least a dozen deaths (although Amazon avoided liability because the drivers aren’t employees).
But the cameras, which Amazon said record drivers “100% of the time” during their routes, also raise privacy and bias concerns given the company’s track record in both cases.
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.
Named Driveri, the camera system is manufactured by Netradyne, a California-based company that develops tools that help transportation companies “reduce driving accidents and prevent false claims.” (Netradyne did not respond to a request for comment).
Amazon claims in the video that Netradyne’s cameras “reduce collisions from in-cab warnings by 1/3,” citing studies by First Analysis and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. (The initial analysis could not be achieved and a VTTI spokesperson could not immediately determine which study the video was referring to.)
Driveri’s four cameras – a front-facing dash cam, two side cameras, and a driver-facing camera – use AI and machine learning to detect driving behavior, such as driving. For example, not stopping at stop signs, following too closely, accelerating, driving distracted, breaking hard and accelerating, seatbelt compliance and drowsiness. It also detects if the cameras are blocked.
Driveri then uses automated verbal warnings to warn drivers when they are engaging in risky behavior.
Karolina Haraldsdottir, a senior manager of last mile safety at Amazon who relates the video, says in it that no one is able to monitor a “live feed” of driver material. This video will only be uploaded if Driveri is intentionally triggered by drivers or drivers during certain “safety conditions” and that a “limited number of authorized persons” can access the footage.
Haraldsdottir also explains that drivers can only turn off cameras when the ignition is off and that the side cameras can remain on for up to 20 minutes to record things like “package theft, driver harassment and collisions with moving vehicles”.
Continue reading: More than 40% of Amazon employees surveyed wish they were in a union, a new insider survey shows
Amazon has a long history of closely tracking workers’ behavior, punishing those who fail to adhere to strict productivity quotas, exposing them to hazardous working conditions, and taking steps to deliberately cover up injury rates.
According to Vice News, Amazon hired the infamous Pinkerton spies to track warehouse workers and labor movements within the company. It also monitored workers’ public and private social media activity, causing setbacks from lawmakers and more than 200 employees who had asked Amazon for transparency.
The company has also been criticized for its use of facial recognition technology, which several studies have found biased against women and people with darker skin. It’s not clear whether Netradyne’s technology is based on Amazon Rekognition or some other facial recognition software.
Continue reading: An Amazon delivery driver reveals the key features of Rivian’s electric van that could solve some of his biggest headaches