The employee behind the wheel of an autonomous Uber prototype that killed a bicyclist in Arizona was watching Hulu in the seconds leading up to the accident.
A report published by the Tempe Police Department says that Rafaela Vasquez was repeatedly looking down prior to the fatal crash.
Upon further investigation, and after obtaining records from Hulu, the police determined that Vasquez was streaming ‘The Voice’ for 42 minutes on her phone throughout the night. She stopped watching at 9:59 pm, which the report says “coincides with the approximate time of the collision.” It was also concluded that Vasquez started watching the talent show just minutes after starting the drive that night.
The report says Vasquez could face charges of vehicle manslaughter. However, Reuters reports that no decision about whether to charge her has been made yet. Police have submitted their findings to county prosecutors, who will make the ultimate determination.
Tempe Police say Vasquez had her head down for 5.3 seconds and only looked up 0.5 seconds before the crash. The Volvo XC90 autonomous prototype was traveling at under 44 mph (70 km/h).
The report goes on to state that the crash was “entirely avoidable” had Vasquez been paying attention.
Vasquez told NTSB investigators that she was “monitoring the self-driving system interface” at the time of the crash, but data from Hulu suggests that wasn’t the case. She also claimed that neither her personal or business phones were in use at the time of the crash.
In a statement issued to The Verge, an Uber spokesperson said the company prohibits its autonomous vehicle operators from using mobile devices while working.
“We continue to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations while conducting our own internal safety review. We have a strict policy prohibiting mobile device usage for anyone operating our self-driving vehicles. We plan to share more on the changes we’ll make to our program soon.”