BMW said this morning that a fatal crash in Germany involving four vehicles, one of which was identified as an autonomous test vehicle by police, did not involve a self-driving car.
On Monday, a fully-electric BMW iX reportedly drifted into an opposite lane on the B28 federal road in Southwestern Germany. It hit two vehicles and caused another accident indirectly, reports indicated. The vehicle had five people on board. A 33-year-old female was killed. Nine other people were seriously injured.
However, BMW has come out to state that the iX vehicle involved was not a self-driving vehicle, which clarifies misconceptions about the state of autonomous vehicles worldwide. Self-driving vehicles would equip a Level 5 advanced driver assistance system (ADAS). The BMW iX has a Level 2 ADAS, which is not fully autonomous according to standards set by the Society of Automotive Engineers. BMW told Reuters in an emailed statement that “the driver always remains responsible” in a Level 2 system.
A serious accident involving an autonomously labeled Test BMW iX in Germany leaves one dead and 8 heavily injured
It is unclear what happened and if any autonomous features were activated, but the iX steered into oncoming traffic twice pic.twitter.com/M2Vdjsdfzy
— Alex (@alex_avoigt) August 16, 2022
According to the SAE, Level 2 autonomous driving systems still require the vehicle operator to drive. “You are driving whenever these driver support features are engaged — even if your feet are off the pedals and you are not steering,” the SAE shows. These rules also apply to SAE Levels 0 and 1. “You must constantly supervise these support features: you must steer, brake, or accelerate as needed to maintain safety.”
Specific to vehicles with a Level 2 system, the features provide braking and acceleration support to the driver, as well as lane centering and adaptive cruise control. The driver, however, still needs to remain vigilant and attentive, keeping their hands on the wheel at all times.
Police initially reported that the vehicle was an autonomous test vehicle. While BMW confirmed the crash involved one of its models, the car in question did not have self-driving capabilities, only driver assistance features.
BMW said it was in contact with authorities to receive more details regarding the circumstances of the accident, including the cause.
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