If you were wondering how your plugged in Tesla Model S was going to be able to leave its charging cable behind when it gets "summoned," don't you worry. That creepy robot arm that Tesla demonstrated last August will soon be here to help. On a conference call today to discuss the automakers version 7.1 software update – which brought with it a new "summon" feature that automatically parks or unparks the car – CEO Elon Musk said that "some version" of the automatic arm will be available in the future.

"We will try to make it look less creepy," he said. "It's sort of fascinating in its creepiness. We will probably roll it out first in the Superchargers, and see how that goes. The car will need to automatically charge."

There were other tidbits of information to share, as there almost always are in calls like this. Here's what we learned:
  • Musk said that the Tesla autopilot is "better than human" at this point, especially at staying in the center of the lane. And it's not a better all around driver than the average human now, then it will be in the coming months.
  • Musk said he expects it will only take 24-to-36 months for all of the technical hurdles to be met for fully autonomous cars. This would mean, he said, that an Autopilot car could work anywhere in the country. "One also needs to set a reliability threshold," he said, but in that 24-36 month time frame, an Autopilot car would be able to drive on virtually all roads safer than a human could.
  • It would then be possible to drive from New York to Los Angeles. But one of the things that is necessary before that happens is for more redundancy to be built into the car, which means more cameras and sensors. That way, if one system fails, the car does not have to revert to driver control. Instead, it would fail to another set of electronics in the car.
  • Speaking of a cross-country drive, Musk said it would certainly make things difficult if different US states set up different autonomous rules."It would get pretty weird if the car's behavior has to change when it crosses a state border," he said. He also suggested that Tesla's home state is the leader here. "California has put the most amount of thought into autonomous transport," he said.
  • One of the main factors helping Tesla's cars drive by themselves is the fleet learning angle. Musk said that the fleet of connected Teslas drive about a million miles a day, and that number goes up every week. The more data Tesla sees, the more it can make the case that if the car had been in autonomous mode, it would have prevented (or, of course, perhaps caused) an accident. "So far, the results are good," he said, but Tesla is still early in the data collection period. There have been a couple accidents that happened when the driver thought the car was in autonomous mode, but it really wasn't. Musk said that no serious accidents have been reported in any Autopilot accidents.
  • Speaking of accidents, what happens if there's a fender bender while you're summoning your car? Musk said that Autopark remains a beta feature and so any liability would remain with the driver. Autoparking may not work in all situations, he said, and the driver can stop the auto park and summon feature at any time, and that's what Tesla recommends. "The driver will be responsible for anything that happens," he said. "But I suspect that would be very rare. The car can even detect if a small dog walks past. Probably, it's better than a person."
  • It turns out, you can also summon your self-parking Model S from your phone's Tesla app, as well as the coded set of key presses from the fob that we learned about already.
  • Version 7.1 added in curve speed adaptation. In 7.0, the car would maintain a fixed speed even around sharp corners. Now, the car is smart enough to slow down when it gets to a curve.
We've got videos of Tesla Model S owners trying out their new Autopark feature here.

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