Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has dropped plans to use in-vehicle cameras to record which delivery service provider (DSP) drivers are wearing masks. The company is deploying Netradyne’s Driveri camera system to Amazon-branded vehicles.
The Information was first to report the news.
The announcement follows a letter earlier this month from five U.S. senators, including Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos questioning the e-commerce giant on its plans regarding privacy concerns over the Netradyne system.
“Although community and automobile safety are of the utmost importance, they must not come at the expense of workers and the public’s safety, privacy, and wellbeing. We are concerned that adding further surveillance tools and monitoring could increase dangers on America’s roads, place unsafe pressure on drivers, and infringe on individuals’ privacy rights,” the letter stated.
Amazon plans to use the in-vehicle cameras to monitor safe driving behaviors, including distracted driving. In a recent training video, however, the company added mask wearing as one of the behaviors it would monitor, The Information reported.
“We piloted the technology from April to October 2020 on over two million miles of delivery routes and the results produced remarkable driver and community safety improvements — accidents decreased 48 percent, stop sign violations decreased 20 percent, driving without a seatbelt decreased 60 percent, and distracted driving decreased 45 percent,” Amazon wrote in a statement to The Information.
The Netradyne Driveri platform utilizes in-cab cameras, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in an Edge computing environment to monitor and record driver behaviors in real time. Its cameras can recognize speed limit signs, stoplights and stop signs, pedestrians, and other objects and adds context to events.
For example, if a driver has a hard-braking event, a traditional event-triggered system would record that information on the driver’s profile. The Netradyne system still logs the incident as a hard-braking event, but because of the AI, it is able to add context to the situation, for example, in this case there was a car stopped in a lane adjacent to the one the vehicle was in and a woman opened the door on the car into the driver’s lane.
Driveri will rank the incidents based on severity so managers know the appropriate level of driver coaching needed. It offers real-time data analysis, insights and alerts, and stores up to 100 hours of footage on the device. It uploads all videos to the cloud where they are immediately available for review.
Netradyne’s in-cab camera also alerts drivers of risky actions and can be the impetus for rewards for consistently safe driving.
Amazon is not the first fleet to install cameras. Some have opted for optional driver-facing cameras to monitor for safety behaviors, such as seat belt usage, in addition to drowsy or distracted driving.
According to a 2019 C.J. Driscoll & Associates survey, more than 40% trucking fleets were using video cameras inside the cab.
“Of the fleets we surveyed (both for-hire and private), 44% of fleets reported using video cameras on at least some of their trucks. I thought that was a fairly high percentage,” said Clem Driscoll, founder of the firm. “It was interesting that 58% of them said they received insurance discounts, and quite a few reported reductions in accidents.”
Speaking at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition in 2017, Wes Davis, CFO of Big M Transportation, talked about the impact his fleet felt from the installation of onboard video.
The fleet deployed cameras across its fleet of 300 vehicles and within one year, it was named the Truckload Carriers Association Safest Fleet Division IV winner. Following installation of the systems, Big M saw a 74% decrease in following too closely, an 85% decrease in lane departure incidents and a 72% decrease in traffic violations. The company’s Unsafe Driving BASIC under the CSA program decreased from 63% before the system to 0%, and its Crash Score BASIC declined from 74% to 2%. It also saw its insurance premium cut in half.