'Driver' of autonomous Uber was watching Hulu during crash

From CNET: In March of this year, a self-driving car undergoing testing for the ride-hailing service Uber struck and killed a pedestrian on the public streets of Tempe, Arizona. Footage of the incident showed that the driver, Rafaela Vasquez, appeared to be distracted in the moments before impact. Now, according to a Tempe Police Department report, the cause for that distraction has been found: Hulu.

Reuters reports that Tempe police worked with Hulu to obtain Vasquez's viewing history, finding that she was watching "The Voice" on her phone during a time that corresponds to the moment of impact. Further, the report indicates that Vasquez was "distracted or looking down" nearly one third of the 22 minutes leading up to the crash.

Uber was testing its modified Volvo XC90 in Tempe, Arizona, a locality favored by many developing self-driving vehicles due to its relaxed regulations when it comes to the certification of those technologies. Indeed, Waymo plans to launch its own self-driving, ride-hailing service in Phoenix later this year.

The fatal accident in March raised many questions among those testing autonomous vehicles on public streets, and now it raises questions about the liability of the driver assigned to monitor the vehicle. According to the police report, Rafaela Vasquez faces a charge of vehicular manslaughter.

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