Arizona Uber crash driver was 'watching TV'

Arizona Uber crash driver was 'watching TV'

Police also said that the crash was "deemed entirely avoidable" if Vasquez had been paying attention while the vehicle was operating autonomously. The human backup driver in an autonomous Uber SUV was streaming the television show "The Voice" just before the vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian, according to a published report. The report further notes that Vasquez's Hulu account had been playing the television talent show "The Voice" for about 42 minutes on the night of the crash and ended at 9:59 p.m., coinciding with the approximate time of the collision.

Per the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) preliminary report, Uber's lidar and radar spotted Herzberg a full 6 seconds before impact.

The incident in March raised alarms about the ability of autonomous technology to react to unexpected human behaviors and led to Uber temporarily shutting down its self-driving auto operations nationwide.

A crash report indicated that the self-driving vehicle was traveling too fast for the road conditions. The report provides more evidence that driver Rafaela Vasquez was distracted in the seconds before the crash.

In their conclusion, police say Vasquez's "inattention to the roadway" and "disregard for her assigned job function" ultimately resulted in the death of Herzberg.

Vasquez was looking away from the road for long stretches in the time before the crash, according to an internal video showing her that was released by police.

At the same time, Vasquez was convicted of unsworn falsification committed in 1999, meaning she made a false statement to a public officials, and received a concurrent one year sentence.

A spokeswoman last month said the company was undergoing a "top-to-bottom safety review".

"Um, yes, um, I hit a bicyclist northbound Mill Avenue just south of Curry Road", says Vasquez in the 911 audio.

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".

"We continue to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations while conducting our own internal safety review".

It is not clear if Vasquez will be charged, and police submitted their findings to county prosecutors, who will make the determination. 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. If Vasquez had braked, she would have given Herzberg an extra.57 seconds of time to cross in front of the vehicle.

Uber has shut down its self-driving operation in Arizona.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office referred the case to the Yavapai County Attorney's office because of a conflict, and that office could not be reached late Thursday. Tempe police Sgt. Ronald Elcock said that the pedestrian stepped into the street outside of the crosswalk and was immediately struck by the vehicle.

On a body camera video the night of the crash, police gathered at the scene quickly realized that they were dealing with a big story because an autonomous vehicle was involved.

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