BMW says iX electric vehicle involved in fatal crash was not self-driving

Credit: BMW AG

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.

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.

Credit: Society of Automotive Engineers

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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Joey Klender: Joey has been a journalist covering electric mobility at TESLARATI since August 2019. In his time at TESLARATI, Joey has broken several big stories, including the first images of the Tesla Model S Plaid, the imminent release of the 4680 Model Y through EPA certification, and several expansions to the Lucid AMP-1 factory in Arizona, to name a few. His stories have been featured in several publications, including Yahoo! Finance, Fox News, CNET, and Seeking Alpha. In his spare time, Joey is playing golf, watching MMA, or cheering on any of his favorite sports teams, including the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles, Miami Heat, Washington Capitals, and Penn State Nittany Lions. You can get in touch with joey at He is also on Twitter @KlenderJoey.
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