Uber Test Driver Was Watching "The Voice" When Self-Driving Car Crashed

Elaine Herzberg was wheeling her bike across the road when she was hit by the Volvo which was being driven by Rafaela Vasquez

The safety driver's Hulu records were obtained by the police, which showed the driver's account was playing The Voice for about 42 minutes and ending at 9:59 p.m., which "coincides with the approximate time of the collision", according to the report. Given the findings in this latest report, the likelihood of vehicular manslaughter charges against Vasquez has certainly increased.

Uber requires a backup driver in any of its autonomous vehicles, but said driver is of no use if he or she isn't paying attention to the road. Despite this new information surrounding the tragedy, officials are still deciding whether or not they will charge the driver.

"The vehicle operator stated that she had been monitoring the self-driving system interface". Even if Vasquez was being fully negligent - and the documents do seem to show that - the details about Uber's self-driving test program that have emerged since the crash show that the company bears at least as much responsibility for the fatality as any safety driver, negligent or not. The Uber vehicle reportedly headed northbound in Tempe when a woman walking outside of the crosswalk was struck who eventually died from her injuries after onlookers took her to the nearby hospital.

The Volvo's internal video shows Vasquez repeatedly looking down below the dashboard as the vehicle speeds along, as observers noticed when the video was released in March. The company now says it will happen sometime this summer, indicating the top-to-bottom safety review and investigation into the Tempe crash is taking longer than expected.

Last month, the Uber spokeswoman said the company was undergoing a "top-to-bottom safety review", and had brought on a former USA federal transportation official to help improve its safety culture. Hulu, however, said she was streaming an episode of The Voice just before the crash occurred. She had a startled look on her face about the time of the impact.

Volvo has not been implicated in any investigation because Uber had disabled the XC90's factory-installed automatic emergency braking software. But the system is not created to alert the driver.

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The NTSB released its report one day removed from Uber announcing that it would end its self-driving operations in Arizona and lay off around 300 employees connected to the program.

The crash dealt Uber a major setback in its efforts to develop self-driving cars, and the company closed its autonomous vehicle testing programme in Arizona after the incident. "All of a sudden. the auto didn't see it, I couldn't see it", she says. Her face "appears to react and show a smirk or laugh at various points during the times that she is looking down". While the SUV was in motion, Vasquez averted her eyes away from the roadway almost a third of the time, according to the report.

Elaine Herzberg, the pedestrian killed in the incident, was faulted for "unlawfully crossing the road at a location other than a marked crosswalk" in the police report.

In their report, Tempe Police say Vasquez was responsible for taking control of the vehicle in the event of an emergency.

In the lengthy report, Tempe police wrote that Vasquez "appears to be looking down at the area near her right knee at various points in the video".

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