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Amazon’s AI is sending delivery drivers on ‘impossible’ routes, workers say

·2-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Amazon’s artificial intelligence software that manages driver routes has been accused of sending them on ‘impossible’ journeys.

The shopping behemoth’s software, which is supposed to make deliveries more efficient, has been criticised for not considering geographical features.

“The AI often doesn’t account for real-world conditions like rivers or train tracks or roads that are too narrow for vehicles. The results are unreasonable demands and long hours,” said Tatsuya Sekiguchi, the vice executive chairman of Tokyo Union, as reported by Bloomberg.

As a result, a group of 15 subcontracted drivers in Nagasaki have been protesting the company and formed a union earlier this week. The group blamed Amazon’s AI for making their job more difficult.

Other drivers, who do not work directly for Amazon but are contracted through third-party companies, are also demanding an official labour contract with the technology giant. “Given that they get orders directly from Amazon Japan through an app, they work for Amazon”, Mr Sekiguchi said.

He added that subcontracted drivers in Japan get no overtime or accident insurance, have to work 11 hours a day or more, and pay for their own gas, vehicle insurance and maintenance costs – as well as the costs of the truck they use to deliver products.

Amazon told Bloomberg that it is not responsible for managing or paying drivers, but works with contractors to set “realistic expectations that do not place undue pressure on them.” Amazon did not respond to The Independent’s request for further comment before time of publication.

Amazon has also been criticised by workers in the United States and United Kingdom for what its employees claim are unfair wages and working conditions. Around 6,000 workers in New York City formed a union in a Staten Island warehouse – the first among the company’s warehouse workers – in spite of alleged union-busting from their employer.

In the UK, hundreds of Amazon workers across Tilbury, Bristol, and Rugeley, have walked out over low pay in the face of the cost-of-living crisis. “It’s a Chinese sweatshop in the UK,” one worker at Tilbury told The Observer. “It’s how they set up their model.”

Amazon declined to respond to specific claims when asked.