Uber driver was watching The Voice before fatal self-driving vehicle collision

Uber driver was streaming Hulu show before fatal self-driving crash

Uber driver was streaming Hulu show before fatal self-driving crash

An Uber driver in a self-driving auto was streaming television until moments before the vehicle hit and killed a pedestrian, according to police.

That's according to a more than 300-page investigation released by the Tempe Police Department late Thursday.

According to the spreadsheet of watch data from Hulu, Vasquez was streaming television episodes for approximately three hours the night of the crash.

Vasquez "appears to react and show a smirk or laugh at various points during the times that she is looking down", the report suggests, finding that the safety driver "was distracted and looking down" for almost about 30-percent of the time in the nearly 22 minutes before the crash.

The crash killed Elaine Herzberg, a 49-year-old woman who was walking across the street when she was hit by the self-driving auto.

Herzberg was crossing the street with her bicycle when she was hit by the Uber on March 19. She could face charges of manslaughter, reports The Guardian.

Had Vasquez been paying attention, the report argues, the crash was "deemed entirely avoidable". It ended at 9:59pm, which "coincides with the approximate time of the collision", according to the report.

But here's the thing: even if Vasquez wasn't watching The Voice, police documents also clearly show that Uber's safety procedures were insufficient. It was the first fatal crash involving a self-driving vehicle.

The crash took place at night, with the autonomous Uber in self-driving mode at the time. The Uber self-driving program was suspended after the fatality and the Arizona program shut down. The responsibility for braking was left up to Vasquez - who didn't look up until 0.5 seconds before the accident.

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Uber originally launched its self-driving cars onto the streets of Pittsburgh back in September 2016.

Dash camera video shows Vasquez was looking down near her right knee for four or five seconds before the crash.

A previous National Transportation Safety Board report said Herzberg had methamphetamine and marijuana in her system.

As Uber told Phoenix New Times last month, and as the new Tempe police report states, Vasquez had been trained on the capabilities and limitations of the vehicle. Of the almost 22 minutes that elapsed during that distance, Vasquez was looking down for 6 minutes and 47 seconds.

In a statement issued to The Verge, an Uber spokesperson said the company prohibits its autonomous vehicle operators from using mobile devices while working.

During nine video segments obtained from the vehicle's dashcam, Vasquez looked down 204 times. Former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart is now a safety consultant for Uber.

County Attorney Bill Montgomery had the case transferred to the Yavapai County Attorney's Office to avoid any conflicts of interest.

An officer who identifies himself as supervisor of the unit that investigates fatal crashes is seen asking a man who appears to be an Uber supervisor about getting video from the SUV and whether Uber's lawyers have been contacted. The operator of the vehicle was supposed to be watching the road and dealing with emergencies.

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