Sunday, 23 September, 2018

Uber operator was watching `The Voice' before fatal self-driving crash

Uber driver was streaming Hulu show before fatal self-driving crash Modal Trigger AP
| 26 June, 2018, 20:25

A 318-page report filed by the Tempe Police Department refutes driver Rafaela Vasquez's previous statement to federal safety investigators that she wasn't using her mobile devices when the auto struck and killed a woman who was crossing the street at night.

The operator of the Volvo SC90, Rafaela Vasquez, 44, passed a field sobriety test after the crash, according to police, but records obtained from Hulu indicate Vasquez's phone was playing an episode of The Voice and the stream ended at 9:59 p.m.

Uber has hired former National Transportation Safety Board chair Christopher Hart as an adviser on the company's overall safety culture.

The police documents also back up previous reports that Uber's self-driving vehicles were unable to perform emergency braking, relying entirely on the human driver to intervene in a risky situation.

Officials are conducting an extensive investigation into the fatal crash involving a self-driving Uber vehicle back in March.

Reuters reported that The Voice was streamed for 42 minutes before the collision. Unfortunately, the vehicle wasn't programmed to actually perform emergency braking procedures-nor was it programmed to alert the safety driver.

A detailed analysis of video from inside the Uber SUV shows during 11.8 miles traveled before the crash, Vasquez looked down 204 times toward her right knee, according to the report.

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.


Police said a review of video from inside the vehicle showed Vasquez was looking down during the trip, and her face 'appears to react and show a smirk or laugh at various points during the times that she is looking down'. Then, she told investigators that neither her personal nor work phones had been in use at the time. The company is reviewing internal processes, including its safety driver training practices.

"You guys know as well as I know that this is going to be an worldwide story", the police supervisor says. The investigation has revealed that she looked up half a second before the crash, after nearly 6 seconds of looking down.

After reviewing the evidence, police concluded that the accident was "entirely avoidable".

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. McCormick asked. "This is a very serious case where the charges of Vehicular Manslaughter may be charged, so correctly interpreting the information provided to us is crucial". "We have a strict policy prohibiting mobile device usage for anyone operating our self-driving vehicles", an Uber rep said.

The system is disabled while Uber's autonomous cars are under computer control, "to reduce the potential for erratic vehicle behavior", the NTSB report said. The vehicle was in autonomous mode at the time of the collision.

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

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

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