Self-Driving Uber Crash 'Avoidable,' Driver's Phone Playing Video Before Woman Struck

Elaine Herzberg was killed on the night of March 18. She was homeless at the time

Elaine Herzberg was killed on the night of March 18. She was homeless at the time

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

Police say dashcam footage shows that Vasquez "was distracted and looking down" during the almost 22-minute drive that preceded the crash.

Data from streaming-services company Hulu obtained through a search warrant showed Vasquez's phone was playing the singing competition "The Voice" at 9:59 p.m., about the same time as the accident.

"This crash would not have occurred if Vasquez would have been monitoring the vehicle and roadway conditions and was not distracted, " the report concludes. "We have a strict policy prohibiting mobile device usage for anyone operating our self-driving vehicles", an Uber spokesperson told Gizmodo. The case has been submitted to the Maricopa County Attorney's office for review against Vasquez, who could face charges of vehicular manslaughter.

After Uber announced it meant to resume testing, Pittsburgh laid out a set of conditions for the company, including a strict 25-mph speed limit for test cars to make collisions with pedestrians more survivable. 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.

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"The vehicle was in auto-drive", Vasquez says to the officer.

The auto "failed" to identify Ms Herzberg as a pedestrian, it found, and took no action to avoid hitting her nor did it perform an emergency stop.

This image provided by the Tempe Police Department shows the scene where an an Uber SUV hit a woman in Tempe, Ariz on March 18, 2018.

"The vehicle was in auto-drive", Rafaela Vasquez, 44, is heard telling police on an officer's body camera.

Instead, she repeatedly looked down at her phone, glancing up just half a second before the vehicle hit Herzberg. Uber declined to comment.

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"She appears to be looking down at the area near her right knee at various points in the video, " the report says.

During Vasquez's ride in the Uber vehicle, which was recorded on video inside the vehicle as part of the testing, she looked down 204 times, mostly in the direction of the lower center console near her right knee, according to the police 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.

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.

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 company now says it will happen sometime this summer, indicating the top-to-bottom safety review and investigation into the Tempe crash is taking longer than expected.

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

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