What Is Tesla Smart Summon?

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Tesla’s sleek electric vehicles (EVs) feature ever-evolving advanced technologies that are reinventing modern driving as we know it.
The Smart Summon feature of Tesla’s driving assistance Autopilot program is one of these advances that is intended to simplify the driving experience.
However, Tesla’s Autopilot has a history in the headlines for dangerous safety issues with potentially disastrous consequences. Do the benefits of this tech outweigh the drawbacks? Jerry has all the details.
A red Tesla Model 3 driving down a roadway
Smart Summon is available for all Tesla models with Autopilot Full Self-Driving capabilities. | Photo Courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Unpacking the Tesla Smart Summon feature

The Smart Summon feature essentially enables a Tesla to drive autonomously within a 60 meter range of a parking lot at the press of a button on a smartphone app, all while you are outside the vehicle.
Pressing and holding down the button will start the vehicle and keep it moving (at a slow, safe speed) towards you, until you release the button, stopping the vehicle.
Selecting “Come to me” will signal the vehicle to drive to your location, while “Come to target” directs it to a user-specified location.
According to HotCars, Smart Summon has actually been around since 2016, when it was included in the Model X and Model S Autopilot functionalities. The following year, the Model 3 joined in with the capability added to Autopilot’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) experience, although the feature wasn’t named “Smart Summon” until a later 2019 software update.
When it was first introduced, the feature received high praise from consumers who were excited by the convenience, safety, and ostensibly, the futuristic appeal of this innovation.
Being able to summon your vehicle from its parking spot to your exact location when your hands are full of groceries sounds, or send your vehicle to park itself sound like pretty awesome concepts, but unfortunately, such innovations came with some serious drawbacks.

What’s the issue with Smart Summon?

It wasn’t long before Smart Summon was criticized by consumers for safety concerns that saw Tesla EVs operating unexpectedly.
One vehicle was recorded hitting a bumper, and another, leaving the parking lot and entering traffic.
According to HotCars, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an inquiry, which basically resulted in an acknowledgement of the concerns, and an announcement that discussions were underway with Tesla to get to the bottom of the issues.
These were not the first concerns raised over Autopilot’s features. A series of fatal crashes in 2016, 2018, and 2021 have involved the driver-assistance program and, in response, new rules have been enacted that require automakers and affiliated software suppliers to report crashes meeting certain criteria to the NHTSA.
This is a good first step to improving the functionality of driver-assistance and automated driving systems, and preventing future tragedies, but there is still much work to do.
HotCars notes that the NHTSA is monitoring the evolution of Smart Summon technology and recording complaints.
Jerry previously reported that National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) data shows that since 2012, 41 out of 50 states have gotten on board with the idea of regulating the safety of driver-assist technologies.
Hopefully, advancements that come with enhanced safety measures will mean that the feature can operate seamlessly in future and consumers can continue to enjoy the ground-breaking innovations that Tesla offers with maximized safety.

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