Amazon is planning to use AI-equipped cameras to surveil deliveries drivers on their routes, The Information has reported. The “Driveri” camera and software platform, supplied by a company called Netradyne (yep) can detect and warn drivers about road violations or poor driver practices. It will also collect data that Amazon can use later to evaluate drivers.
“We are investing in safety across our operations and recently started rolling out industry leading camera-based safety technology across our delivery fleet,” Amazon spokesperson Deborah Bass told CNBC in a statement. “This technology will provide drivers real-time alerts to help them stay safe when they are on the road.”
In an unlisted video narrated by Amazon senior manager for last-mile safety Karolina Haraldsdottir, Amazon said the company wants to reduce collisions and risky driver behavior. To that end, the four HD cameras are constantly recording footage all around the cab and driver.
The system does not allow drivers to be monitored in real time, but it will upload footage to a dedicated safety team for 16 different actions. Illegal road behavior like failure to stop or speeding will trigger audio alerts, like “distracted driving” or “no stop detected.” Other actions like hard braking or seatbelt violations will upload the footage with no alert. The driver can also push a button to start recording footage for incidents like road rage or if a delivery location is closed.
In the video, Haraldsdottir said the platform is designed to “set up drivers for success.” But one driver told The Information that the cameras will make an already difficult job even more stressful, as they’ll have to be concerned with “any possible mistake that an AI might think it saw.”
Amazon’s contract Flex drivers must follow Amazon’s demanding work rules, despite not being directly employed by the company. That means drivers who contracted COVID-19 didn’t receive any pay when forced to stay home, unlike Uber contractors. On top of that, the FTC recently fined Amazon $61.7 million for withholding tips from Flex drivers.
Amazon already uses cameras in long-haul trucks to detect distracted driving, and other delivery companies including UPS have tested similar technology. As ProPublica recently noted, however, Amazon may be putting more burden on drivers while failing to address the conditions — namely, the incredibly tight delivery schedules — that could encourage additional risk in the first place.