Amazon recently decided to install cameras on board its delivery trucks. The goal ? Monitor the behavior of delivery people and sanction them in the event of a violation of the highway code. However, as many employees testify, there are many errors, which lead to unjustified penalties on their pay.
Since 2018, Amazon has implemented the DPS program, for Delivery Service Partners. To ensure that the billions of packages sent by the e-commerce giant are delivered safely, Amazon relies on 2,000 small delivery companies, which represents a total of 115 000 drivers subcontractors in the United States alone.
Of course, the American company has requirements to become a partner, starting with compliance with a set of rules concerning hiring, the appearance of drivers to their body odor, their activities on social networks, remuneration. , routes and adoption of different security and surveillance mechanisms such as Netradyne cameras.
Indeed, since February 2021, Amazon has started to install artificial intelligence-boosted cameras in its delivery trucks. Manufactured by Netradyne, the “Driveri” cameras are there to “ensure the safety of drivers ”. At present, they equip more than half of the American delivery fleet, as an Amazon spokesperson explained to our colleagues at the Motherboard (Vice) site.
Amazon cameras are supposed to hunt down bad drivers
These cameras are on board four lenses that register drivers when they detect “events” that violate the Highway Code, such as failure to respect safety distances, a Stop sign, a red light, or forgetting to wear a seatbelt for example. When an “event” is detected by the camera, the images are uploaded to a Netradyne interface accessible by Amazon and the delivery company that employs the driver. In parallel, a robotic voice emanating from the camera takes care of the morale of the delivery man and notifies him of his error.
And of course, each “event” has a negative influence on the score that drivers receive each weekend. However, these performance scores determine whether they receive prizes, bonuses and bonuses on their salary. Only and as told by six Amazon drivers employed in California, Texas, Kansas, Alabama and Oklahoma and the owner of a partner delivery company located in Washington, these cameras have the annoying tendency to punish drivers for false “events”.
Read also: Amazon fires its employees via an algorithm that notes their work
Too many false “events” recorded
Indeed, the cameras sanction them when they look at their rearview mirror, when they turn to reverse, when they stop before a stop sign at a blind intersection or when they are cut off from the road by a traffic light. other car when traffic is heavy. “Anytime I have to make a right turn it inevitably happens. A car cuts me off to get in my lane, and the camera, with that truly dystopian dark robotic voice, screams at me. It is so confusing. It’s overwhelming, even though I didn’t do anything ”, explains Derek, delivery driver for Amazon in Los Angeles.
He also explains that he tried to dispute the events recorded by the camera with Amazon, without success. “When I get my score each week, I ask my business what I did wrong. My company sent an email to Amazon with a copy of me asking them for the photos of the recorded events, but they did not respond. There is no room for discussion if you imply that the camera data is wrong ”, he denounces.
In the opinion of the manager of an Amazon partner delivery service, these cameras have allowed the giant to save huge amounts of money, since they allow Amazon to pay its subcontractors less based on the number of violations recorded. As evidenced by an internal document obtained by Motherboard, “security and compliance ” represent 40% of the score of a delivery service partner. These include a “driving measure safe” calculated by an app called Mentor, a seat belt removal rate, speeding rate, traffic violation rate, distraction rate, and a rate of compliance with safety distances.
These cameras are pushing delivery services out of business
For example, each recorded red light violation is equivalent to 10 Stop sign violation events. To obtain a “Fantastic” rating, delivery services must obtain less than 50 events in 100 trips. “If your security rating is not fantastic, you will not receive a bonus. They say “We’re obsessed with safety” or whatever bullshit, but this camera is costing delivery companies hundreds of dollars in revenue every week, which they need to train drivers and survive. Without the premium, you do not survive and you go bankrupt ”, insures the owner of a partner delivery company in Washington.
The situation has become so nightmarish that some drivers started placing stickers on the cameras to prevent them from recording images of them. For its part, Amazon guarantees that a team manually examines all the events that are the subject of an appeal, to ensure that erroneous events do not impact drivers or delivery companies.
“A futile appeal process”
But according to the same owner of the delivery service, the number of events recorded, the amount of work required to examine them, and the low probability that an event will be canceled makes the futile appeal process. “The cameras are ringing constantly all day. This creates a massive distraction for drivers on the road, and it creates a massive workload for delivery companies to review the videos. It’s too much work to do every week ”, he denounces.
As a reminder, a report published in 2019 by the AI Now Institute at New York University assured that “AI threatens not only to disproportionately displace lower paid workers, but also to reduce wages, job security and other protections for those who need it most ”.
Source : Motherboard