Amazon.com Inc launched on Tuesday a tracking system based on artificial intelligence for enforcing social distancing at the offices and warehouses for reducing any risk of contracting the new coronavirus or COVID-19 among the workers.
The unveiling comes as the largest online retailer of the world faces strict scrutiny from the US lawmakers and unions on whether it is doing enough for the safety of the staff amid the pandemic.
Monitors set up in the company's warehouses will highlight workers keeping a safe distance in green circles, while workers who are closer will be highlighted in red circles, Amazon said. The system, called Distance Assistant, uses camera footage in Amazon's buildings to also help identify high-traffic areas.
Amazon to Use AI-Based Tracking System
Amazon, which will open-source the technology behind the system, is not the first company to turn to AI to track compliance with social distancing. Several firms have told Reuters that AI camera-based software will be crucial to staying open, as it will allow them to show not only workers and customers, but also insurers and regulators, that they are monitoring and enforcing safe practices.
However, privacy activists have raised concerns about increasingly detailed tracking of people and have urged businesses to limit use of AI to the pandemic. The system is live at a handful of buildings, Amazon said on Tuesday, adding that it planned to deploy hundreds of such units over the next few weeks.
(With agency inputs)