BMW is denying a claim by German law enforcement officials that one of its self-driving electric vehicles was autonomous at the time that it veered into opposing traffic and caused a four-car pile-up, killing one person and injuring nine others.
An all-electric BMW iX SUV crossed into the opposite lane of the B28 federal highway near Roemerstein on Monday, colliding into two vehicles and indirectly causing two others to crash into each other, according to authorities.
A 33-year-old woman was killed and nine other people, including the 43-year-old driver of the BMW and his 18-month-old passenger, were seriously injured.
Investigators at the scene said that the BMW vehicle was a test car that was in self-driving mode at the time of the accident.
But while BMW confirmed that one of its vehicles was involved in the crash, it denied the authorities’ claims that the driver was not actively steering at the time of the accident.
A BMW spokesperson told Reuters that the car is fitted with Level 2 driver assistance systems in which “the driver always remains responsible.”
Level 2 systems brake automatically, accelerate, and take over steering, according to the company website.
In Level 1 cars, the “driver assistance systems” support the driver, but do not take control of the vehicle, BMW says.
The German automaker said it was in close contact with investigators.
Auto and tech companies at the forefront of developing autonomous vehicles have been busy working out the kinks as several high-profile accidents drew scrutiny from regulators.
Apple’s self-driving vehicles struggled to navigate roadways, bumped into curbs, and veered out of lanes in the middle of intersections near the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters, according to a recent report published by The Information.
Earlier this summer, federal investigators traveled to Florida to probe a fatal collision involving a Tesla.
Two people died in a crash along I-95 near Gainesville when a 2015 Tesla rear-ended a tractor-trailer. While the Tesla boasts semi-autonomous features, investigators have so far been mum as to whether those functions were active at the time of the accident.