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Pedestrian killed by self-driving Uber car in Arizona, police say

Last Updated Mar 19, 2018 6:53 PM EDT

TEMPE, Ariz. -- A self-driving Uber SUV struck and killed a pedestrian in suburban Phoenix in the first death involving a fully autonomous test vehicle -- an accident that could have far-reaching consequences for the new technology.

The crash Sunday night in Tempe was the event many in the auto and technology industries were dreading but knew was inevitable. 

Uber immediately suspended all road-testing of such autos in the in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. The testing has been going on for months as automakers and technology companies like the ride-hailing service compete to be the first with cars that operate on their own.

The Volvo was in self-driving mode with a human backup driver at the wheel when it hit 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she was walking a bicycle outside the lines of a crosswalk, police said. She died at a hospital.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi expressed condolences on his Twitter account and said the company is working with local law enforcement on the investigation.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 5,376 pedestrians were killed by cars in 2015. This is believed to be the first fatal pedestrian accident involving a self-driving vehicle.

In addition to Uber, Google's self-driving car division, Waymo, and several major automakers are also developing autonomous vehicle technology. Uber recently paid Waymo a reported $245 million to settle a lawsuit alleging stolen trade secrets.