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Self-Driving Uber Pilot Was Watching Hulu Before Deadly Crash

The so-called safety driver of the self-driving Uber involved in a deadly accident in Arizona this March was busy streaming Hulu up to the moment of the crash, the Tempe Police Department revealed in a report Thursday. Law enforcement officials deemed the crash “entirely avoidable,” according to Reuters.

Safety drivers are common in self-driving vehicle tests, and are meant to observe the road and interfere if and when the on-board computer fails to make safe decisions. However, police discovered that the safety driver in this case was watching an episode of “The Voice,” streaming from Hulu on her phone. Law enforcement officials obtained usage records from Hulu, which showed that the stream ended around the time of the crash.

Police also found out that she was looking at her phone for more than 5 seconds, and only looked up half a second before the accident — too late to stop the car. The safety driver has not been charged with a crime, according to Reuters. However, the police report indicated that she could face charges for vehicular manslaughter.

Uber had been testing a fleet of self-driving vehicles in Arizona earlier this year. In March, a Volvo equipped with autonomous driving technology hit a pedestrian who was crossing a street at night. Video of the crash sparked outrage, and Uber responded by suspending its Arizona trial. The company has plans to resume testing of autonomous vehicles later this year elsewhere.


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