Sunday, 23 September, 2018

Driver of autonomous Uber streaming 'The Voice' just before crash

Uber driver was streaming Hulu show before fatal self-driving crash Modal Trigger AP
Leonard Rios | 25 June, 2018, 07:41

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.

Pictures just released from the scene of the crash show Herzberg's bicycle, which she was walking with in the roadway before the crash. Driver Rafaela Vasquez was watching The Voice in the minutes prior to the accident, according to police. The report further notes that Vasquez's Hulu account had been playing the television talent show "The Voice" for about 42 minutes on the night of the crash and ended at 9:59 p.m., coinciding with the approximate time of the collision.

A previously released video of the crash showed Vasquez looking down just before the crash.

Last month, the Uber spokeswoman said the company was undergoing a "top-to-bottom safety review", and had brought on a former US federal transportation official to help improve its safety culture.

It added: "We have a strict policy prohibiting mobile device usage for anyone operating our self-driving vehicles". It's the same situation: the driver thinks the car's got this because they've repeatedly seen the auto handle the road without them.

Following the crash, Uber has dealt with a major setback in its aim to develop self-driving cars. Cars in Uber's self-driving cars are back on the roads after the program was temporarily halted following a crash in Tempe, Arizona on March 19. Her role - a legally required one, as per the terms of Uber's autonomous testing permit in Arizona - was to monitor the car's behavior and be ready to step in should the vehicle fail to act safely or appropriately.

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

Tempe Police Department A photo of the self-driving Uber SUV in Tempe immediately following the fatal accident in March. The new report says Vasquez told police she'd been driving without her hands on the wheel, or feet on the pedals. Of the almost 22 minutes that elapsed during that distance, Vasquez was looking down for 6 minutes and 47 seconds.

This image made from video Sunday, March 18, 2018, of a mounted camera provided by the Tempe Police Department shows an exterior view moments before an Uber SUV hit a woman in Tempe, Ariz.

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. Uber also said it brought in former transportation safety board chairman Christopher Hart to advise the company on safety. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office was last reported to have referred the case to the Yavapai County Attorney's Office.

This is the latest development in the ongoing investigation into the fatal crash.

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

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