An Uber security driver who was behind the wheel of a self-driving automotive that struck and killed a girl within the US has been charged over the demise.
Rafaela Vasquez pleaded not responsible to negligent murder on Tuesday following the 2018 crash that resulted within the first recorded demise involving a self-driving car.
Elaine Herzberg, 49, died after she was struck by the automotive whereas strolling a motorcycle throughout a avenue at evening in Tempe, Arizona.
Uber escaped expenses over the crash after prosecutors mentioned final 12 months that the corporate was not criminally liable.
Police have mentioned beforehand that Vasquez was watching the TV present The Voice on her cellphone on the time of the crash and was repeatedly wanting down as an alternative of retaining her eyes on the highway.
The 46-year-old is now on account of face trial in February.
She instructed investigators she didn’t use her cell phones earlier than the collision.
Nonetheless, the Nationwide Transportation Security Board (NTSB) concluded her failure to watch the highway as she watched The Voice on her cellphone was the principle reason behind the crash.
The contributing components cited by the board included Uber’s insufficient security procedures and ineffective oversight of its drivers, Ms Herzberg’s resolution to cross the road exterior of a crosswalk, and the Arizona Division of Transportation’s inadequate oversight of autonomous car testing.
The board additionally concluded Uber’s de-activation of its computerized emergency braking system elevated the dangers related to testing automated automobiles on public roads.
As a substitute of the system, Uber relied on the human backup driver to intervene.
The Uber system detected Ms Herzberg 5.6 seconds earlier than the crash.
Nonetheless it failed to find out whether or not she was a bicyclist, pedestrian or unknown object, or that she was headed into the car’s path, the NTSB mentioned.
A toxicology report confirmed that Ms Herzberg examined constructive for methamphetamine.
Earlier than beginning work as an Uber driver, Vasquez had beforehand spent greater than 4 years in jail for 2 felony convictions – making false statements when acquiring unemployment advantages and tried armed theft, in response to courtroom data.
Uber reached a civil settlement with Ms Herzberg’s household a number of weeks after the accident.
Its driverless automotive programme, which was suspended within the wake of the crash, resumed final December.
Vasquez’s first identify was listed on a driver’s licence as Rafael, however police say Vasquez identifies as a girl and goes by the primary identify of Rafaela.