Amazon Australia leveraging AI to remind employees to socially distance

    Amazon Australia has announced that is is deploying a ‘Distance Assistant’ in its Australian fulfillment centres and delivery stations. The news comes after a successful rollout in the US, India and other countries in Europe.

    The ‘Distance Assistant’ uses Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and Machine Learning to track individual movements while they are in front of the camera and gauge their physical distance from others.

    Similar to the ‘self-service’ radar speed check mechanism that reminds drivers on Australian roads to slow down by displaying their speed on a screen as they drive past, the innovation creates a magic-mirror-like experience to provide team members with immediate visual feedback via a monitor, camera, and local computing device without recording, storing or transmitting the images.

    The standalone unit uses Machine Learning models to differentiate people from their surroundings. Combined with depth sensors, the algorithm creates an accurate distance measurement between associates giving them proximity indicators on the monitor. 

    The self-contained ‘Distance Assistant’ units are stationed in high traffic areas across Amazon Australia’s Fulfilment Centres and Delivery Stations. As individuals walk past the camera, the monitor displays a live video feed with visual cues to show associates if they are within two metres of one another.

    The on-screen indicators are designed to remind associates to maintain appropriate distance from those around them. Individuals remaining two metres apart are highlighted with green circles, while those who are closer than two metres are highlighted in yellow and then red circles. 

    “With a safety-first approach, we have been investing in scalable technology solutions to prioritise the safety of our teams at all times. We are pleased to introduce this global innovation in Australia.

    Social distancing is a learned behaviour and ‘Distance Assistant’ will continue to enhance our safety practices and also empower our team to improve social distancing.

    As our associates continue to deliver smiles to customers, we remain steadfast in our commitment to helping safeguard their health and will consistently expand our health and safety processes for our people.”

    Craig Fuller, Director of Operations at Amazon Australia, said 

    To support our communities, Amazon has open sourced the software behind this innovation so that anyone can create their own ‘Distance Assistant’. Individuals and businesses large and small in Australia can download the package at no cost and get up and running with a computer and camera.

    Amazon Australia places tremendous value and focus on the well-being and safety of its people across its operations network and this innovative solution is the most recent addition to the company’s COVID safety measures.

    In response to the COVID-19 virus, Amazon has already implemented more than 150 changes to its operational processes globally, including process flow changes, mandatory wearing of masks, and daily temperature checks, among others.

    For more information on how Amazon Australia prioritises safety while fulfilling customers’ orders visit the Amazon blog.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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