An electric BMW iX test car veered into opposing traffic on Monday near Reutlingen, Germany, causing a four-car collision, the death of one person and injury to nine others.
The BMW first brushed off an incoming Citroen.
The Citroen’s 70-year-old driver lost control and hit a third vehicle with two people on board, which was pushed off the road where it burst into flames, according to a Reutlingen police spokesman cited by The Associated Press.
The BMW then hit a Mercedes van straight on, killing a 33-year-old passenger in that vehicle. The injured included all five passengers of the BMW test car, four adults including the driver as well as an 18-month-old baby.
Police have not yet been able to interview those involved in the crash.
“The crash vehicle was an autonomous electric test car. Whether it was being steered by the 43-year-old (driver) or not is the subject of investigation,” Reutlingen police said in an initial statement.
BMW confirmed the fatal crash involved a test vehicle, but denied that the car was operating autonomously.
“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. With level 2 vehicles the driver always retains responsibility,” BMW said in a statement to AP.
Level 2 cars, per the BMW website, “can brake automatically, accelerate and, unlike level 1, take over steering.”
BMW also told the AP that the car was marked clearly as a test car for data protection purposes, because it was recording footage.
“We are in the process of investigating the exact circumstances. Of course we are in close contact with authorities,” BMW added.