Germany: 1 dead, 9 injured after test car veers into traffic

Berlin — A test car with autonomous steering capabilities veered into oncoming traffic in Germany, killing one person and seriously injuring nine others, police said Tuesday.

A police spokesman in the southwestern city of Reutlingen said the electric B.M. W An iX carrying five people, including a child, veered out of its lane at a bend in the road, triggering a series of four-vehicle collisions on Monday afternoon.

After brushing an oncoming Citroen, the BMW collided with a Mercedes-Benz van, killing the 33-year-old passenger in that vehicle.

The 70-year-old driver of the Citroen lost control of her car and crashed into another vehicle with two people inside, pushing it off the road and bursting into flames.

Reutlingen police spokesman Michael Schaal said four rescue helicopters and dozens of firefighters responded to the incident, and the injured were taken to several hospitals in the region. They included the 43-year-old driver of the BMW, three adults aged 31, 42 and 47 and an 18-month-old child who were all in the test vehicle.

Schaal said police have not yet had a chance to interview those involved in the crash.

“The vehicle involved in the accident was an autonomous electric test car,” police said in a statement. “Whether or not the 43-year-old (driver) was driving is a matter of investigation.”

BMW confirmed that one of its test vehicles crashed near Reutlingen, but denied the vehicle was fully autonomous.

“The vehicle features a Level 2 driving assistance system that is included 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 added that the vehicle was required to be marked as a test car for data protection purposes, as it was recording footage.

“We are in the process of investigating the exact circumstances (of the accident),” BMW said. “Of course we are in close contact with the authorities.”

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