Safety driver in fatal autonomous Uber crash was watching Hulu

Driver was streaming The Voice when Uber self-driving car crashed, say police

The human backup driver of the self-driving Uber that struck and killed a woman crossing the street in Tempe, Arizona was streaming the NBC show "The Voice" on her phone shortly before the March 18 collision.

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.

In their report, Tempe Police say Vasquez was responsible for taking control of the vehicle in the event of an emergency.

Tempe police concluded that Vasquez should have been able to avoid the deadly collision if she had been paying proper attention.

A search warrant obtained by Tempe police show her personal phone was streaming an episode of The Voice on Hulu until one minute before 10 p.m., the approximate moment of the crash, the new report shows. The Hulu record showed her streaming ended at 21:59 hours - or 9:59 p.m.

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.

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

"We have a strict policy prohibiting mobile device usage for anyone operating our self-driving vehicles", Uber wrote in an emailed statement. Instead, Uber relied on its drivers "to intervene and take action" even though its system doesn't sound a visual or audible alert. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey prohibited Uber from continuing its tests of self-driving cars after Herzberg was run over.

Cody Fleming, assistant professor of systems engineering at the University of Virginia, told me in a conversation about autonomous vehicle levels - Level 0 means no vehicle automation with the driver fully in control; Level 5 is the highest, with the auto able to drive itself in any situation and condition - that humans don't do well with boredom. Uber's video shows the driver looking up a half second before the collision, having been looking down for 5.3 seconds. The case is in the hands of the Yavapai County Attorney's Office for review after the Maricopa County Attorney's Office referred the case because of a conflict.

Vasquez could not immediately be reached for comment and Reuters could not locate her attorney.

"The vehicle operator stated that she had been monitoring the self-driving system interface".

The report found that Vasquez "was distracted and looking down" for close to seven of the almost 22 minutes prior to the collision.

An officer who identifies himself as supervisor of the unit that investigates fatal crashes is seen asking a man who appears to be an Uber supervisor about getting video from the SUV and whether Uber's lawyers have been contacted.

Footage shows self-driving Uber SUV in fatal crash and has now revealed driver was watching TV on mobile just seconds before.

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

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