The backup driver in an autonomous Uber that struck and killed a pedestrian in March looked down inside the vehicle more than 200 times and her smartphone was streaming NBC’s “The Voice” in the run-up to the deadly collision, according to Tempe, Ariz., police investigators.
Rafaela Vasquez “appears to react and show a smirk or laugh at various points during the time she is looking down,” according to a police report released late Thursday.
Uber’s self-driving system initially misidentified the 49-year-old victim, Elaine Herzberg, as a vehicle when she was pushing a bike across a dark thoroughfare, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Vasquez, who was supposed to provide a second layer of safety, did not begin braking until after Herzberg was hit. Tempe police concluded that Vasquez should have been able to avoid the deadly collision if she had been paying proper attention.