Tesla released the latest version of its AI-driven come-hither feature called Smart Summon last week. Available to owners who purchased the Enhanced Autopilot or the Full Self-Driving option for their cars, it allows a Tesla to leave a parking space and navigate itself to a user pressing a button on the Tesla's key or using the carmaker's app. The feature works up to a distance of 200 feet, and the automaker cautions users to be in line-of-sight and to monitor the vehicle's surroundings at all times. The first videos of Enhanced Summon in action are the same mixed bag of incidents and fevered reaction we expect from everything Tesla.
The carnival kicked off when Twitter user AB posted what he said were the results of his first Smart Summon test, those being a dent in the front left fender and a claim that the Model 3 drove into the garage entrance. Tesla supporters attacked AB for his posting history and unverified claims while Tesla detractors attacked AB for trusting Tesla.
Be forewarned @Tesla @elonmusk Enhanced summon isn’t safe or production ready. Tried in my empty drive way. Car went forward and ran into the side of garage. Love the car but saddened. #Tesla #TeslaModel3 pic.twitter.com/tRZ88DmXAW— AB (@abgoswami) September 28, 2019
More videos followed, like this one from Twitter user David Guajardo showing an incident with his Smart Summon experiment.
Soday 1 with V10 Smart Summon was working beautifully. But someone didn’t notice my M3 and made a front bumper damage. We will claim our insurances but who’s fault do you guys think it’ll be ? Should I present this videos ? @teslaownersSV @Model3Owners @LikeTeslaKim @TesLatino pic.twitter.com/fhSA78oD6C— David F Guajardo (@DavidFe83802184) September 28, 2019
There are few videos with accidents, though, and they don't seem to be the main story; a Twitter feed of Smart Summon videos shows numerous successful implementations. What's most evident about Smart Summon is how clumsy it is, and how many people will ignore Tesla's line-of-sight cautions about the feature's use. Both issues are to be expected. Those wowed with the tech exclaim as their Tesla crawls toward them in double or triple the time it would take to walk to where the car is parked. Or has a close call with an SUV. Or pulls up and stops in the opposite lane. Or deliberates with every aspect of the maneuver as well as pedestrians and other cars. Or exits the direct line-of-sight requirement for most of its journey. The Brave New World is coming, but getting there will be a bumpy ride for man and machine.
It's important to note that the feature isn't new. Summon, which has been around since 2016, could pull a Tesla into and out of a parking space. Enhanced Summon arrived (get it?) in April of this year with a 150-foot range — after a period of beta testing with a cadre of owners — and Smart Summon expands on the capabilities with the most recent Version 10 update to Tesla's vehicle software. Anecdotes and videos of the tech excelling and failing aren't new; in 2016 a Model S owner said his sedan summoned itself into a parked truck trailer. A video from May this year shows Enhanced Summon still had a few kinks, another from the same month shows a flawless run. Last Friday, Elon Musk said, "Summon is improving rapidly."