Driver in autonomous Uber was watching Hulu moments before fatal Tempe crash

Uber driver was streaming Hulu show before fatal self-driving crash

The human safety monitor of a self-driving Uber SUV that hit and killed an Arizona woman during a test this year was watching television at the time of the collision, police 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.

Herzberg, who was homeless, was walking her bicycle across the street, outside a crossing on a four-lane road, on the night of 18 March when she was struck by the front right side of the Volvo.

During the 22 minutes and 11.8 miles leading up to the moment of impact, Vasquez's eyes were off the road for 6 minutes and 47 seconds, according to a police analysis of video inside the vehicle.

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

A report released by the National Transportation Safety Board on the crash last month showed that the emergency braking system on the vehicle had been disabled, in part to reduce the jerkiness of the ride. Instead of the system, Uber relies on the human backup driver to intervene, the report stated.

At the time she was known as Rafael and identified as male.

Vasquez looked down at her lap for 5.3 seconds prior to the crash, then looked up less than a second before her vehicle struck Herzberg.

In a span of 11.8 miles behind the wheel, Vasquez is said to have looked down 204 times toward her right knee and that in those 22 minutes she had her head down for almost 7 minutes.

This revealed the Uber vehicle had about six seconds to react after spotting Ms Herzberg crossing the road in the dark ahead of it. The incident - which grounded Uber's self-driving auto fleet as the company began an investigation into the safety of its vehicles - was "entirely avoidable" law enforcement have suggested.

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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.

At the same time, Vasquez was convicted of unsworn falsification committed in 1999, meaning she made a false statement to a public officials, and received a concurrent one year sentence.

"We continue to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations while conducting our own internal safety review" the Uber spokesperson wrote.

A photo from the police report show's the self-driving Uber's front-end damage after the fatal crash.

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

On a body camera video the night of the crash, police gathered at the scene quickly realized that they were dealing with a big story because an autonomous vehicle was involved.

NTSB investigators asked Vasquez about her downward glances in a post-crash interview.

Elaine Herzberg, the pedestrian killed in the incident, was faulted for "unlawfully crossing the road at a location other than a marked crosswalk" in the police report.

At the wheel at the time, however, was Uber safety driver Rafaela Vasquez.

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