Safety driver involved in fatal self-driving Uber crash was watching Hulu


Vasquez reportedly told federal investigators that she had been monitoring the self-driving interface in the vehicle and that neither her personal nor business phones were in use until after the crash. Based on testing, the crash would have been "entirely avoidable" had Vasquez been paying attention, the report said.

She was watching "The Voice" from 9:16 p.m. until 9:59 p.m. Police believe the crash happened while she was streaming that show.

A report by the Tempe Police Department said the driver, Rafaela Vasquez, repeatedly looked down and not at the road, glancing up a half second before the auto hit Elaine Herzberg, 49, who was crossing the street at night. It was the first fatal crash involving a self-driving vehicle.

Hulu provided detectives with Vasquez's "subscription ID, IP Address, Source ID, Device and Internet Service Provider that was streaming the videos", according to the report, suggesting it would know where the device was when it was streaming The Voice, although this information is redacted in the version of the report obtained by Quartz.

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"You guys know as well as I know that this is going to be an worldwide story", the police supervisor says. However, footage provided by Uber from the car's internal cameras showed Vasquez repeatedly glancing down rather than looking at the road.

Uber said the autonomous system also relies on the human operator to monitor diagnostic messages on the dashboard and tag events for review.

Tempe police have referred the case to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for possible charges. The pictures also show front-end damage to the Uber vehicle.

Analysis of dashcam video, police said, concluded that Vasquez looked down for 31 percent of the almost 22 minutes she was in the driver's seat before the crash.

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A damaged bicycle lies at the scene where an Uber self-driving vehicle struck a woman in Tempe, Ariz., March 19, 2018.

The report concludes that, while Herzberg was not in a crosswalk when hit, Vasquez was "inattentive, " failed to take control of the vehicle to avoid the crash and that her "disregard for assigned job function to intervene in a hazardous situation" all contributed to the crash. The apps were found on one or both of Vasquez's phones.

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. Uber's policy is to ban any use of mobile devices by the safety driver while its autonomous vehicles are on public roads. The police report faulted her for "unlawfully crossing the road at a location other than a marked crosswalk".

The report says that "Vasquez was distracted and looking down for 31% of the 21 minutes and 48 seconds prior to the collision", and that she was "distracted and looking down for 5.2 seconds of the 5.7 seconds prior to impact". Video of a deadly self-driving vehicle crash in suburban Phoenix shows the pedestrian walking from a darkened area onto a street just moments before the crash.

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