Uber Test Driver Was Watching "The Voice" When Self-Driving Car Crashed

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Earlier today, Gizmodo obtained and published documents from the Tempe, Arizona police department that appear to Uber's safety driver was streaming Hulu at the time when an Uber self-driving vehicle hit and killed a pedestrian.

The Arizona Republic is reporting that the driver was watching "The Voice", a television musical talent show.

The report released Thursday details the death of 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg the nation's first fatal crash involving a pedestrian and a self-driving vehicle. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey prohibited Uber from continuing its tests of self-driving cars after Herzberg was run over. The vehicle was in autonomous mode at the time of the collision. She could face charges of manslaughter, reports The Guardian.

"This crash would not have occurred if Vasquez (the driver) would have been monitoring the vehicle and roadway conditions and was not distracted", the report says according to the newspaper.

The police report said the viewing began at approximately 9:16 p.m. and the last viewing time shown was 9:59 p.m. which coincides with the approximate time of the collision.

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.

Following the crash in March, Uber suspended all of its self-driving auto testing on public roads before laying off 300 of its self-driving vehicle operators in Arizona and permanently shutting down its testing there. Despite this new information surrounding the tragedy, officials are still deciding whether or not they will charge the driver.

Uber's self-driving Volvo SUV was traveling at just under 44 miles-per-hour.

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Uber told the publication that it prohibits drivers from looking down at any device while manning an self-driving vehicle.

Ms Vasquez looked up from her phone screen about 0.5 seconds before the crash, said the report, but had been concentrating on her phone for about 5.3 seconds previously.

Tempe Police Department A photo of the self-driving Uber SUV in Tempe immediately following the fatal accident in March.

"She appears to be looking down at the area near her right knee at various points in the video", the report reads. The report found that Vasquez "was distracted and looking down" for close to seven of the almost 22 minutes before the collision. "We plan to share more on the changes we'll make to our programme soon".

The police report sad Vasquez had been watching a TV show in the moments before she struck Herzberg.

At the wheel at the time, however, was Uber safety driver Rafaela Vasquez. Former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart is now a safety consultant for Uber.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators examining the Volvo that was involved in the crash. Her job was to look at the road and prepare for any emergencies, Uber confirmed.

Both Vasquez and Uber could still face civil liability in the case, Uber for potentially negligent hiring, training and supervision, said Bryant Walker Smith, a University of SC law professor who closely follows autonomous vehicles.

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