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Amazon is putting AI cameras in some of its warehouses to see if workers are actually standing six feet apart (AMZN)


Amazon Distance Assistant

  • Amazon is implementing a new AI camera system known as the "Distance Assistant" at some of its warehouses to make sure employees are following social distancing guidelines.
  • The system is composed of a camera, a 50-inch monitor, and a computing unit.
  • When employees walk past the camera, the monitor would use green and red circles to indicate whether workers are standing six feet apart.
  • The announcement comes after Amazon has been criticized for its warehouse working conditions during the pandemic. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Amazon is using sophisticated cameras to tell whether its warehouse workers are complying with social distancing guidelines by standing six feet apart during shifts.

The tech giant announced its "Distance Assistant" in a blog post on Tuesday, a camera system that can show whether workers are standing too close to one another in real time. The device is composed of a camera, a 50-inch monitor, and a local computing device, which uses depth sensors to calculate distances between employees and machine learning to distinguish between people and objects.

Here's how the "Distance Assistant" works: When a person walks by the camera, the monitor would show whether they are standing six feet away from other nearby associates by overlaying red or green circles around any employees within range of the camera. A green circle would indicate when people are properly socially distancing, while a red circle would suggest employees are standing too close.

The company says the tech has been implemented in a "handful" of its buildings and that it plans to deploy hundreds more in the coming weeks. It's also open sourcing the software and artificial intelligence behind the system so that others can use the tech.

Amazon's "Distance Assistant" is just one way companies are implementing new technologies as part of an effort to either reopen or continue operations throughout the coronavirus pandemic. So-called "cleanse portals" that use a form of UVC light that's safe for human contact to disinfect patrons are also beginning to appear in establishments like New York City's Magnolia Bakery, for example. 

Amazon is launching its "Distance Assistant" after they company has come under criticism for its treatment of warehouse workers throughout the pandemic. Some workers are suing the online retailer for failing to protect them from the coronavirus, with one employee accusing Amazon of preventing workers from adequately washing their hands or sanitizing their work stations, according to Bloomberg. Last month, an employee who worked in the company's Staten Island facility died from COVID-19, after workers at that location had gone on strike to oppose the warehouse's working conditions in the past. 


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