Amazon installed AI-powered surveillance cameras in many delivery vans earlier this year to make people and deliveries safer. In the meantime, however, the deliverers are complaining. The system would punish them for mistakes they didn’t make. Such actions have an impact on a points system by which the Amazon deliverers are measured and which is crucial for the distribution of bonuses.
The camera system comes from the Californian company Netradyne and uses four HD lenses that film all four sides. Software with the support of artificial intelligence methods detects potentially dangerous situations. It warns the deliverer by voice if he is driving too fast, if he does not stop at a stop sign, if the distance to other vehicles is too short or if the driver seems distracted, for example when reaching for a smartphone while driving.
Too many warnings, bad rating
Now, however, both deliverers and delivery companies commissioned by Amazon are complaining about too many warning messages that interfere with the journey and that cause the delivery companies additional effort in the evaluation. In addition, the system would report driving errors that are not the responsibility of the deliverer, reported Vice. As a result, points are deducted from the drivers in their weekly evaluation and they lose bonuses to the salary such as additional payments or gifts in kind.
Examples of driving errors registered by the AI system are other vehicles cutting in directly in front of the delivery van, which is assessed as an insufficient safety distance. Careful stopping at a confusing intersection is registered as an unnecessary stop and even looking in the rearview mirror before changing lanes was rated as a distraction. In addition, some street signs would be incorrectly recognized as stop signs by the system.
Amazon points to higher security
Amazon emphasizes the increased security through the installed AI cameras. According to this, the number of accidents has fallen by 48 percent and violations of stop signs and red lights have decreased by 77 percent. Driving without a seat belt has also decreased by 60 percent, distracted driving by 75 percent and violations of the safety distance by 50 percent.
The deliverers and delivery companies, on the other hand, see the system as a means for Amazon to lower employee and partner pay. These already suffer from a lack of time and strict delivery dates and would be put under further pressure by the many warning messages. Donning and doffing the seat belt would be too time-consuming when driving from house to house in quiet residential areas. And complaints or inquiries about point deductions would not be answered by Amazon.
2000 US delivery companies for Amazon
Amazon works with around 2,000 smaller delivery companies in the United States that employ around 115,000 drivers and deliver billions of parcels each year. The surveillance cameras for Amazon vans have been rolled out since the first quarter of 2021, but it is not known how widespread the Netradyne system has become. heise online has asked Netradyne for an opinion. The company has not commented on Vice.