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

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 23, 2018

A report released by the National Transportation Safety Board on the crash last month showed that the emergency braking system on the auto had been disabled, in part to reduce the jerkiness of the ride.

Tempe, Arizona, police have released a massive report on the fatal Uber vehicle crash that killed pedestrian Elaine Herzberg in March. It was also concluded that Vasquez started watching the talent show just minutes after starting the drive that night.

The detailed report of more than 300 pages was released by Tempe police Thursday night, along with video and photos from the scene of the March 18 collision.

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

"The report states data obtained from the self-driving system shows the system first registered radar and LIDAR observations of the pedestrian about six seconds before impact, when the vehicle was traveling 43 miles per hour", the NTSB's report on the crash reads.

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.

Her face "appears to react and show a smirk or laugh at various points during the times that she is looking down", a review video from inside the vehicle showed, according to police.

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

At the time, Uber was testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

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

It is not yet clear if Vasquez will be charged - though police submitted their findings to county prosecutors who will make the determination.

Late last month, the National Transportation Safety Board released a report saying the self-driving Volvo used by Uber spotted the pedestrian six seconds before the fatal collision, but did not stop because the system to automatically apply brakes were disabled.

Vasquez could not immediately be reached for comment.

Uber said it is cooperating with ongoing investigations and conducting its own internal safety review.

"When using the built-in timer on the video player and moving the video frame by frame, the video player shows that her eyes were averted from the roadway for 4.2 seconds".

Of the almost 22 minutes that elapsed during that distance, she was looking down for six minutes and 47 seconds, the newspaper reported. The operator of the vehicle was supposed to be watching the road and dealing with emergencies.

Uber spokespeople speaking to Gizmodo already appear to be steering the conversation towards blaming Rafaela Vasquez, the operator in the Uber vehicle.

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