Police: Backup Driver in Fatal Autonomous Uber Crash Was Watching ‘The Voice’

PHOENIX — The human backup driver in an autonomous Uber SUV was streaming the television show “The Voice” on her phone and looking downward just before fatally striking a pedestrian in suburban Phoenix, according to a police report.

The 300-page report released Thursday night by police in Tempe revealed that driver Rafaela Vasquez had been streaming the musical talent show via Hulu in the 43 minutes before the March 18 crash that killed Elaine Herzberg as she crossed a darkened road outside the lines of a crosswalk. The report said the crash, which marks the first fatality involving a self-driving vehicle, wouldn’t have happened had the driver not been distracted.

Dash camera video shows Vasquez was looking down near her right knee for four or five seconds before the crash. She looked up a half second before striking Herzberg as the Volvo was traveling about 44 miles per hour. Vasquez told police Herzberg “came out of nowhere” and that she didn’t see her prior to the collision. But officers calculated that had Vasquez been paying attention, she could have reacted 143 feet before impact and brought the SUV to a stop about 42.6 feet before hitting Herzberg.

“This crash would not have occurred if Vasquez would have been monitoring the vehicle and roadway conditions and was not distracted,” the report stated.

Tempe police are looking at a vehicular manslaughter charge in the crash, according to a March 19 affidavit filed to get a search warrant for audio, video and data stored in the Uber SUV.

The detective seeking the warrant, identified as J. Barutha, wrote that based on information from the vehicular homicide unit, “it is believed that the crime of vehicular manslaughter has occurred and that evidence of this offense is currently located in a 2017 Grey Volvo XC-90.”

A previously released video of the crash showed Vasquez looking down just before the crash. She had a startled look on her face about the time of the impact.

The National Transportation Safety Board, in a preliminary report issued last month, said the autonomous driving system on Uber’s Volvo XC-90 SUV spotted Herzberg about six seconds before hitting her, but did not stop because the system used to automatically apply brakes in potentially dangerous situations had been disabled.

The system is disabled while Uber’s cars are under computer control, “to reduce the potential for erratic vehicle behavior,” the NTSB report said. Instead of the system, Uber relies on …read more

Source:: Time – Technology

      

6 Easy Ways to Keep Your Phone Safe in the Summer Heat

Summer is most definitely here, and while that means warm evenings and walks on the beach or in the park, it also means your phone might be at risk of heat damage.

Extreme temperatures can have a big impact on your phone’s internal components. A phone getting too hot can cause data loss or corruption, and repeated exposure to heat could permanently slow down your device. Heat can even cause battery leakage, potentially putting your personal safety in danger.

With that in mind, here’s a list of six easy steps you can take to protect your phone when the temperature starts rising.

Take your phone out of your pocket

On a hot day, you shouldn’t keep your phone in your pocket if you want it to cool down. Not only is it unpleasant, but your natural body heat will work against the cooling process. Just like while charging, you’re better off putting your in a shaded position away from insulating materials. In a worst-case scenario, an overheated phone’s battery can start to leak or catch fire, putting you at serious risk.

Stop using your phone, or put it in airplane mode

It’s not just external temperature that can cause a phone to overheat. If you’re playing games or making lots of calls, your phone will be working harder and generating more heat as it does. Combined with warm surrounding temperatures, this can lead to overheating. To help your phone cool down, put it in airplane mode and stop using processor-intensive apps like games — or better yet, stop using it altogether for a while.

Don’t leave your phone in the car

A car acts like a greenhouse on a hot day — one recent study found that a car parked in the sun on a 95 degree day can reach temperatures of 116 degrees in just one hour. Apple recommends not to use an iPhone when it’s above 95 degrees, and says you shouldn’t store it anywhere higher than 113 degrees. Other smartphone manufacturers recommend similar steps. (Hot cars are, of course, also a threat to people and pets.)

Don’t charge your phone in direct sunlight

As you’ve probably experienced, charging your phone can cause it to heat up. If you leave your phone in direct sunlight while it’s charging, the heat from the sun will add to the normal heat that’s a side-effect of the electricity transfer to your phone’s battery. …read more

Source:: Time – Technology

      

Police Need Search Warrant to Track Suspects’ Location via Cell Tower Records, Supreme Court Says

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court says police generally need a search warrant if they want to track criminal suspects’ movements by collecting information about where they’ve used their cellphones.

The justices’ 5-4 decision Friday is a victory for privacy in the digital age. Police collection of cellphone tower information has become an important tool in criminal investigations.

The outcome marks a big change in how police can obtain phone records. Authorities can go to the phone company and obtain information about the numbers dialed from a home telephone without presenting a warrant.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, joined by the court’s four liberals.

Roberts said the court’s decision is limited to cellphone tracking information and does not affect other business records, including those held by banks.

He also wrote that police still can respond to an emergency and obtain records without a warrant.

Justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch dissented. Kennedy wrote that the court’s “new and uncharted course will inhibit law enforcement” and “keep defendants and judges guessing for years to come.”

The court ruled in the case of Timothy Carpenter, who was sentenced to 116 years in prison for his role in a string of robberies of Radio Shack and T-Mobile stores in Michigan and Ohio. Cell tower records that investigators got without a warrant bolstered the case against Carpenter.

Investigators obtained the cell tower records with a court order that requires a lower standard than the “probable cause” needed to obtain a warrant. “Probable cause” requires strong evidence that a person has committed a crime.

The judge at Carpenter’s trial refused to suppress the records, finding no warrant was needed, and a federal appeals court agreed. The Trump administration said the lower court decisions should be upheld.

The American Civil Liberties Union, representing Carpenter, said a warrant would provide protection against unjustified government snooping.

The administration relied in part on a 1979 Supreme Court decision that treated phone records differently than the conversation in a phone call, for which a warrant generally is required.

In a case involving a single home telephone, the court said then that people had no expectation of privacy in the records of calls made and kept by the phone company.

That case came to the court before the digital age, and the law on which prosecutors relied to obtain an order for Carpenter’s records dates from 1986, when few people had cellphones.

The Supreme Court in recent years has …read more

Source:: Time – Technology