AT least one person is dead and nine seriously hurt after a “self-steering” BMW test car veered into oncoming traffic in Germany.
Police said the all-electric BMW iX – with four adults and child on board – swerved out of its lane and caused a horror pile-up with three other vehicles.
Police in Germany said a self-steering BMW test car caused a horror pile-upCredit: Getty
The vehicle involved was an all-electric BMW iX (file image)Credit: AP
It is not yet known why the car suddenly crossed to the wrong side of the B28 federal highway in Römerstein yesterday afternoon.
It first hit an oncoming Citroen, before crashing head-on with a Mercedes-Benz Vito van – in which a 33-year-old passenger was killed.
The Citroen span after impact and smashed into a Seat Alhambra with two people on board.
That car was rammed off the road and burst into flames, reports said.
Reutlingen police spokesman Michael Schaal said four rescue helicopters and dozens of firefighters responded to the smash.
The injured were taken to several hospitals in the region, including the 43-year-old driver of the BMW.
Three adults aged 31, 42 and 47 and a 18-month-old child were also in the test vehicle.
Pictures from the scene show the car emblazoned with stickers warning that it is a test car with autonomous steering.
“The crash vehicle was an autonomous electric test car,” police said.
“Whether it was being steered by the 43-year-old (driver) or not is the subject of investigation.”
BMW confirmed one of its test vehicles was involved in a crash, but denied it was fully autonomous.
“The vehicle has a level 2 driving assistance system that is already incorporated in production vehicles today and which can support the driver on demand,” the company said.
“With level 2 vehicles the driver always retains responsibility.”
BMW said the vehicle was required to be marked as a test car for data protection purposes because it was recording video footage.
The car maker added: “We are in the process of investigating the exact circumstances.
“Of course we are in close contact with authorities.”
Level 2 systems can brake automatically, accelerate and – unlike Level 1 – take over steering, according to BMW’s website.
Self-driving cars have been involved in a number of fatal crashes before.
One of Uber’s Volvo test cars struck and killed a woman crossing the road in Arizona in 2018.
Footage allegedly showed the car – which was in “autonomous mode” – had time to brake before impact.
A year earlier Uber had pulled its test fleet from the roads after another car ended up on its side.
At least three Tesla drivers have died since 2016 while using autopilot mode.
In May this year a Tesla driver was ordered to stand trial for manslaughter after two people died in a December 2019 crash in Gardena, California.
The Model S car was on autopilot when it exited a freeway, ran a red light and slammed into a Honda at 74mph, police said
Prosecutors allege the driver should have been ready to take control but failed to touch the brake pedal.
Last December another Tesla Model S slammed into the back of bus, injuring several people in Newport Beach, California.
In the same town, three people were killed when a brand new Tesla S crashed into a construction site in May this year.
Police are investigating if the autonomous system was operating.
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