Amazon is monitoring its delivery drivers with in-vehicle cameras that alert supervisors to dangerous behavior.

What’s new: The online retail giant rolled out a ceiling-mounted surveillance system that flags drivers who, say, read texts, fail to use seatbelts, exceed the speed limit, or ignore a stop sign, CNBC reported.

How it works: The system, Netradyne Driveri, uses street-facing and in-cab cameras along with an accelerometer and gyroscope to spot 16 unsafe behaviors.

  • When it detects an offending behavior, the system warns the driver and automatically uploads a video to Amazon.
  • Drivers can upload videos manually to document potentially problematic events such as a person approaching the vehicle or an inaccessible delivery location.
  • Netradyne said its system reduces collisions by two thirds, according to The Verge.

Yes, but: Some Amazon drivers said that the system violates their privacy and exacerbates pressure to meet the company’s aggressive delivery schedules.
Behind the news: Amazon has expanded its force of local delivery drivers to more than 400,000 as of November. It has used a similar computer vision system from SmartDrive to monitor its long-haul truckers for sleepiness and distraction. Delivery competitor United Parcel Service also has tested a system, Lytx DriveCam, that monitors drivers of its delivery vans.
Why it matters: Investigations by BuzzFeed and the The New York Times charge that Amazon pressures drivers to make deliveries at a dangerously fast clip, resulting in numerous accidents and several deaths. While in-car surveillance is intrusive, proponents point out that it might help reduce human errors that can occur when people are under stress.

We’re thinking: There are many ways that AI can enhance productivity and safety. Let’s make sure to do it in a way that’s empowering rather than dehumanizing.


Subscribe to The Batch

Stay updated with weekly AI News and Insights delivered to your inbox