Amazon.com introduced an artificial intelligence-based tracking system to enforce social distancing at its offices and warehouses to assist reduce any risk of contracting the new coronavirus among its staffs.
The launching comes because the world’s largest online retailer faces intensifying scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers and unions over whether it’s doing enough to guard staff from the pandemic.
Monitors set up in warehouses will highlight staffs maintaining 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, which can open source the technology behind the system, isn’t the first company to move to AI to trace compliance with social distancing.
Several firms have told Reuters that AI camera-based software are crucial to staying open, because it will allow them to indicate not only staffs and customers, but also insurers and regulators, that they’re monitoring and enforcing safe practices.
However, privacy activists have raised concerns about increasingly detailed tracking of individuals and have urged businesses to limit use of AI to the pandemic.
The system is live at one or two of buildings, Amazon said on Tuesday, adding that it planned to deploy many such units over the subsequent few weeks.