The human backup driver in an autonomous Uber SUV was streaming the television show "The Voice" just before the vehicle struck and killed an Arizona pedestrian in March, according to a published report. The Tempe Police Department obtained logs from Hulu, revealing that she had been streaming The Voice for nearly an hour at the time of the accident.
Following a three-month investigation, the Tempe Police Department has released a 318-page report that claims the driver, Rafaela Vasquez, had been looking down while the vehicle was moving and glanced up only half a second before the crash, Reuters reports.
In their report, Tempe Police say Vasquez was responsible for taking control of the vehicle in the event of an emergency.
The Tempe police report said the crash likely wouldn't of happened had Vasquez been paying closer attention to the road instead of watching a video on phone. "The end time of 21:59:00 hours coincides with the approximate time of the collision", the report added.
In it, Vasquez can clearly be seen looking down at something just before impact.
Last month, the Uber spokeswoman said the company was undergoing a "top-to-bottom safety review", and had brought on a former US federal transportation official to help improve its safety culture.
Uber told ABC News in a statement on Friday morning the company has "a strict policy prohibiting mobile device usage for anyone operating our self-driving vehicles". It's the same situation: the driver thinks the car's got this because they've repeatedly seen the vehicle handle the road without them.
The crash took place at night, with the autonomous Uber in self-driving mode at the time.
Uber has since shut down their self-driving program in the Valley.
The "safety operator" of a self-driving Uber auto was watching TV just before the vehicle was involved in a fatal collision, a police report reveals.
In a span of 11.8 miles behind the wheel, Vasquez is said to have looked down 204 times toward her right knee and that in those 22 minutes she had her head down for almost 7 minutes.
The Maricopa County Attorney's Office referred the case to the Yavapai County Attorney's Office after citing a possible conflict of interest. But we also shouldn't let Vasquez be the scapegoat for an Uber self-driving test that by all accounts was insufficient and unsafe to be testing on public roads, regardless of who was behind the wheel. Vasquez had previously told National Transportation Safety Board investigators in a post-crash interview that the phones weren't in use. "Her hands are not visible in the frame of the video during these times".
As Reuters highlights, the report notes that Vasquez was distracted and looking down for close to seven of the almost 22 minutes before the crash.
Last month, an Uber spokeswoman said the company was undergoing a "top-to-bottom safety review", and had brought on a former federal transportation official to help improve the company's safety culture.
NTSB investigators asked Vasquez about her downward glances in a post-crash interview. "The operator further stated that although her personal and business phones were in the vehicle, neither was in use until after the crash, when she called 911".