Tesla Autonomous ‘Summon’ Feature Not So Smart

Tesla owners testing its new autonomous parking feature are finding some serious flaws in its capabilities.

The feature, Smart Summon, claims to allow owners who purchased the Full Self-Driving option to call their car to approach them from parking bays, with the vehicle driving fully independently at low speed, reversing and turning when needed.

However, it seems to be having issues, with multiple videos showing Tesla cars becoming confused by pedestrians, not spotting other moving vehicles and even crashing into other parked cars. For its part, Tesla says owners are “still responsible” for their car, and they “must monitor it and its surroundings at all times”, making sure it is in their line of sight, “because it may not detect all obstacles”.

This sort of advice calls into question why the automaker has transmitted the OTA feature at all? It’s akin to telling them they can’t trust the car’s brakes because, if they suddenly fail, it’s the owners’ responsibility to anticipate that failure.

The feature is part of the V10 software update, which Tesla’s cars received last week. While Tesla vehicles have been able to drive semi-autonomously for a few years now, this is the first time the cars have been able to drive themselves with no one behind the wheel. Judging by the issues, even at very low speeds, it’s clear an autonomous future where cars can drive themselves fully independently is still some way off.

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