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Man killed in Germany after self-driving BMW veers into traffic

The electric BMW iX with five people inside, including a young child, swerved out of its lane on Monday at a bend in the road and into incoming traffic, brushing an oncoming Citroen (file pic)
Associated Press

One person died and nine were seriously injured after a self-driving test car veered into oncoming traffic, triggering a series of collisions involving four vehicles, police in Germany said.

A police spokesman in the south-western town of Reutlingen said the electric BMW iX with five people inside, including a young child, swerved out of its lane on Monday at a bend in the road and into incoming traffic, brushing an oncoming Citroen.

The BMW then hit a Mercedes-Benz van head on, resulting in the death of a 33-year-old passenger in that vehicle.

Meanwhile, the 70-year-old driver of the Citroen lost control of her car and crashed into another vehicle with two people on board, pushing it off the road and causing it to burst into flames.

Reutlingen police spokesman Michael Schaal said four rescue helicopters were involved in the medical response 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.

Mr Schaal said police had not yet had an opportunity to interview those involved in the crash.

It was unclear whether the 43-year-old driver at the wheel of the BMW test car was actively steering the vehicle at the time of the crash or whether it was travelling autonomously, he said.

BMW confirmed that one of its test vehicles was involved in a crash near Reutlingen, and denied that the vehicle was fully autonomous.

“The vehicle has a level two driving assistance system that is already incorporated in production vehicles today and which can support the driver on demand,” the company said.

“With level two vehicles the driver always retains responsibility.”

BMW added that the vehicle was required to be marked as a test car for data protection purposes, because it was recording footage.

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

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