Amazon said Wednesday it plans to equip its delivery vans with cameras powered by artificial intelligence in an effort to improve driver safety. The internet retailer said it had recently started rolling out technology across its delivery fleet, confirming plans disclosed in an Amazon instructional video reported by The Information earlier in the day.
The AI cameras, developed by transportation management technology startup Netradyne, issue warnings about potential safety issues, Amazon said its video. The in-cab warnings have been shown to reduce collisions as well as improve driver behavior, Karolina Haraldsdottir, a senior manager for last-mile safety, says in the video.
"Our intention with this technology is to set up drivers for success and provide them with support for being safer on road and handling incidents if and when they happen," Haraldsdottir says in the video.
But some Amazon drivers called the cameras a threat to privacy. Comments in a Reddit group for Amazon drivers likened the system to being watched by George Orwell's Big Brother and offered suggestions on how to obscure the lenses.
Netradyne's camera, called Driveri, features four HD lenses pointing in different directions: one on the driver, one on the road ahead and two on either side of the vehicle. The system recognizes good driver behavior as well as bad, Haraldsdottir says.
The cameras will constantly record video but will only upload footage when triggered by one of 16 actions, such as failing to stop at a stop sign, distracted driving and speeding, the video says.
"This technology will provide drivers real-time alerts to help them stay safe when they are on the road," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement.
One Reddit user rejected the company's stated goal of helping improve driver safety. "No," the user wrote, arguing instead that it will be used "monitor and punish us for every little thing."