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Uber Driver in Fatal Autonomous Crash Was Watching Hulu Behind the Wheel

Elaine Herzberg, 49, was killed in Arizona in March after she was struck by an Uber vehicle operating in autonomous mode. The crash prompted investigations by both the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. (Herzberg is believed to be the first person killed by a vehicle operating without a driver.) According to a report from the Tempe Police Department, the driver, Rafaela Vasquez, could have avoided the crash if she had been paying more attention to her surroundings. (Cars operating autonomously have a safety rider in the driver’s seat, like Vasquez, who can throw the vehicle into manual and override the autopilot.) The report also found she had been streaming The Voice on her phone right up until the moment the accident occurred, Reuters reports.

The crash was “deemed entirely avoidable” by the police report. “Vasquez looked up just 0.5 seconds before the crash, after keeping her head down for 5.3 seconds, the Tempe Police report said. Uber’s self-driving Volvo SUV was traveling at just under 44 miles-per-hour,” Reuters also reports. Earlier reports in May attributed the crash to a software problem, citing programming designed to let self-driving vehicles “ignore ‘false positives,’” — like detritus in the road — which errantly registered Herzberg as such. Following the crash, Arizona suspended Uber from conducting any further autonomous tests.

Uber Driver in Fatal Autonomous Crash Was Watching Hulu