Amazon's AI-Powered Cameras Punish Its Delivery Drivers When They Look at Side Mirrors or When Other Cars Cut Them Off, Report Says

Motherboard reported that Amazon drivers are being punished for driving in unsafe ways and other behaviors that are not their fault.
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Motherboard heard from drivers that Amazon's AI-powered cameras unfairly penalized them for looking at side mirrors, setting the radio and even being cut off by another driver.

Motherboard spoke with a Los Angeles delivery man who said that it was upsetting when he didn't do anything. It happens every time I make a right-hand turning. I am stopped by a car to allow it to pass me in my lane. The camera shouts at me in a very dystopian, dark voice.

Amazon claims that it has seen a decrease in accidents since installing Netradyne cameras on its delivery vehicles.

Related: Amazon will pay full college tuition for employees

These "events" can be reflected in workers' performance scores. This could impact their chances of winning bonuses, extra pay, or prizes. They can also impact the income of Amazon's delivery partner.

These events determine whether Amazon drivers receive ratings of "poor," fair," good, or fantastic. Amazon Delivery Service Providers, which manage and employ the drivers, may be eligible for bonuses that can be used to pay for repairs or damages.

Motherboard was told by a Washington DSP owner that Amazon uses the cameras to allegedly make their drivers safer, but that they are actually not paying delivery companies.

Amazon stated in a statement to Insider that one of the safety improvements it made this year was rolling out industry-leading safety technology (telematics, camera-based safety technology) across its delivery fleet. This technology gives drivers real-time alerts that help them to stay safe on the roads.

According to the company, it has observed the following changes in its US fleet since the installation of the cameras: accidents have decreased by 48%, signal violations and stop-sign violations have decreased 77%, following distance has decreased 50%, distracted driving has decreased 75%, and driving without a seatbelt has decreased by 60%.

Motherboard was told by the Washington DSP owner that he didn't receive training on how to use the cameras. Amazon informed Insider that every delivery company was trained on the cameras and required to inform its employees about how DSP scores were affected by events.

Motherboard reported that Amazon drivers have taken to covering up their cameras in order to avoid being charged with any unnecessary offenses.

Motherboard was told by a Kentucky delivery driver that if we raised problems with the cameras managers would just brush it under the rug, they are only concerned about getting the packages out." They cover them up. "They don't want us to cover them up, but it's almost like 'don’t ask, don’t tell'."

Others wore sunglasses to prevent the cameras from interpreting eye movement as distracted driving.

Motherboard spoke with a former Amazon driver from Alabama, who said that the Netradyne cameras Amazon placed in their vans were "a complete nightmare." "I did not feel safer with a camera following my every move," said one of the ex-Amazon drivers in Alabama.

Motherboard also heard from drivers that appeals against incorrectly flagged events were difficult and often rejected.

Amazon informed Insider that appeals were manually reviewed and that errors didn't affect DSPs nor drivers.

Amazon stated in February that the cameras would be installed in its delivery vans in order to increase safety. Concerns about surveillance and privacy were raised by the move. An Amazon driver quit the following month over the installation of the camera. He told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that it was both a privacy violation as well as a breach in trust. Driveri is a system that includes a front-facing camera as well as two side-facing cameras and one that faces the driver.

Netradyne didn't immediately respond to our request for comment.