Uber's backup driver was streaming 'The Voice' minutes before fatal collision

Uber's backup driver was streaming 'The Voice' minutes before fatal collision

Police said Uber driver Rafaela Vasquez was repeatedly looking down and not at the road and only glanced up in the instant right before her vehicle struck Herzberg.

It hasn't been determined whether Vasquez will be charged, but Reuters said the report indicates she could face charges of vehicle manslaughter.

Following the crash, Uber temporarily discontinued self-driving tests in Arizona and laid off 300 operators from the autonomous vehicle unit.

"I was not able to find anywhere in the literature that the self-driving systems alerts the vehicle operator to potential hazards or when they should take manual control of the vehicle to perform an evasive maneuver", a Tempe detective wrote in the report, according to Gizmodo. 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 National Transportation Safety Board, in a preliminary report issued last month, said the autonomous driving system on Uber's Volvo XC-90 SUV spotted Herzberg about six seconds before hitting her, but did not stop because the system used to automatically apply brakes in potentially risky situations had been disabled. Analysis from Netflix and Google (YouTube's parent company) showed that Vasquez was not watching anything on their services prior to the crash.

An Uber spokeswoman announced the company was undergoing a "top-to-bottom safety review" last month.

Uber is beginning to digest the information from the investigation and safety review in order to return to the road as safely as possible, the company said.




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

At the time she was known as Rafael and identified as male. The Volvo XC90 SUV that Uber has been using for its autonomous trials in Arizona and elsewhere would, normally, rely on a system called City Safety that offers automatic emergency braking. But the system is not created to alert the driver.

It added: "We have a strict policy prohibiting mobile device usage for anyone operating our self-driving vehicles". Her "disregard for assigned job function to intervene in a hazardous situation'" contributed to the crash, the newspaper reported. She claims she didn't see Herzberg until impact. They revealed that she was enjoying NBC's series The Voice on her phone until the time of the fatal accident in March. The apps were found on one or both of Vasquez's phones.

Watch video of Uber self-driving auto accident in Arizona.

Ms Vasquez looked up from her phone screen about 0.5 seconds before the crash, said the report, but had been concentrating on her phone for about 5.3 seconds previously.

In the NTSB's report on the crash, federal investigators said Herzberg was dressed in dark clothing, did not look before crossing the street, and was crossing outside of the legal crosswalk in an area "not directly illuminated by lighting".

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