Uber driver was streaming Hulu show just before self-driving car crash

Uber driver was streaming Hulu show just before self-driving car crash

Police say an Uber driver whose self-driving auto struck and killed a pedestrian was streaming a television show on her phone when the accident happened.

Included in a massive Tempe Police Department report this week were details about the March 18 fatal crash. Vasquez was appeared to laugh or smirk during moments when she was looking towards her knee, the report added.

Other companies, such as Uber, are rolling out technology quicker and testing it in real world situations on public roads, with the fail safe that human drivers are in the front seat, watching the road, and ready to react if needed in an emergency. Driver Rafaela Vasquez was watching The Voice in the minutes prior to the accident, according to police.

According to the report, Vasquez, could face charges of vehicle manslaughter after the crash which the department called "entirely avoidable".

Police were able to obtain records of Vasquez's account from the television streaming service Hulu LLC, which showed she'd streamed the talent show for 42 minutes on the night of the March 18 crash.

We've seen this before - drivers using semi-autonomous or almost autonomous features in cars start looking away from the road, going on their phones, and watching much more entertaining things like TV shows and movies.

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.

Uber has fired several safety drivers for breaking the mobile device policy, the spokesperson said.

A crash report also indicated that the self-driving vehicle was traveling too fast for the road conditions.

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Uber's self-driving Volvo SUV was travelling at around 70 kilometres per hour.

Uber pulled its self-driving cars out of Arizona the day before the NTSB report was released, eliminating the jobs of about 300 people who served as backup drivers and performed other jobs connected to the vehicles. The investigation has revealed that she looked up half a second before the crash, after nearly 6 seconds of looking down.

Uber had hoped to return its self-driving cars to Pittsburgh's streets by the end of the June.

In fact, the investigation revealed, Vasquez was looking down for 31 percent of the 21 minutes and 48 seconds before the crash, the report states.

Uber has said it's in the middle of a top-to-bottom review of its safety culture, including operating procedures for its vehicle operators, led by former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Christopher Hart. "We plan to share more on the changes we'll make to our program soon", the statement said.

While the report is bad news for Vasquez, the NTSB report also found that poor engineering decisions by Uber contributed to the crash.

For its part, Uber prohibits the use of mobile devices by safety drivers while on the road. Former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart is now a safety consultant for Uber.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office referred the case to the Yavapai County Attorney's Office after citing a possible conflict of interest.

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