The new "Smart Summon" function from Tesla is already causing confusion – and some small fender benders. It is another example of the real complications that arise from Tesla's willingness to perform beta testing functions with customers.
Smart Summon is the new name for Tesla's autonomous parking function, which allows a Tesla vehicle to leave a parking space and navigate around obstacles for the owner. Tesla owners who bought the Full Self-Driving option on their car received it as part of the version 10 software update that was released last week. With just a smartphone, you can "call" your car from a maximum distance of 200 feet, as long as the car is within your line of sight.
Videos & # 39; s from Tesla owners testing the new feature have already appeared on social media last weekend and you wouldn't know, it's a bit of a mess. A Tesla owner tweeted approximately "Front bumper damage," while another claimed their Model 3 "Ran into the side of [a] garage." A video of one almost collision with a fast-driving SUV, the owner left feeling that their Smart Summon test was "not going so well."
Tesla warns owners to be careful when using Smart Summon because it is not a fully autonomous function. "You are still responsible for your car and must keep an eye on it and its environment at all times and be within your field of vision because it may not detect all obstacles," the fine print on The Tesla website reads. "Be especially careful with fast-moving people, bikes, and cars."
Of course Smart Summon's tweets and videos are already the subject of intense debate between supporters and short sellers of Tesla's # 39; s shares. Supporters accuse the Tesla owners of abuse of the feature – they do & # 39; stupid things with it & # 39 ;, according to Electrek – or even lying about what really happened, while the shorts have their own own theories how this could all be related to the company's upcoming revenue report.
This feels like a small glimpse of the chaotic future. Amid car sales, car companies are introducing more and more futuristic-looking functions into their production vehicles. This includes advanced driver assistance systems such as Tesla & # 39; s Autopilot and GM & # 39; s Super Cruise, and other features that benefit from the range of cameras & sensors that are built into almost every modern car today. Tesla is clearly ahead of the pack. Their competitors rush to keep up.
The result is a messy scrum of "smart" and "stupid" cars that interact with each other in ways that are both hilarious and potentially dangerous – especially when the smart cars are not as smart as advertised. Anyway, these interactions are tailor-made to go viral.
This weekend's video bonanza is just the beginning – and they are likely to shape part of the public's perception of autonomous vehicles as janky and prone to error. You could place them in the same category as the "Tesla driver who sleeps while driving on the highway" genre of YouTube video & # 39; s that have been circulating for years. The advantage is that the more people experience autonomy in their real life, the less plausible it seems.