Tesla Owners Can Now 'Summon' Their Cars to Self-Drive to Them — and It's Raising Safety Questions
Some Tesla owners might want to wait before using a new feature released by the company last month.
On Sept. 26, Tesla released a software update with a bag of new features, including in-car karaoke and Netflix and Hulu support. But the most talked-about upgrade is unquestionably “Smart Summon,” a feature that allows a Tesla vehicle to drive itself from a parking spot to wherever the owner is standing.
“Customers who have purchased Full Self-Driving Capability or Enhanced Autopilot can enable their car to navigate a parking lot and come to them or their destination of choice, as long as their car is within their line of sight,” the company says in a description of the Version 10 upgrade on its website. “It’s the perfect feature to use if you have an overflowing shopping cart, are dealing with a fussy child, or simply don’t want to walk to your car through the rain.”
But the description also comes with a warning: “Those using Smart Summon must remain responsible for the car and monitor it and its surroundings at all times,” the company adds.
While it seems like a moment of science fiction meeting reality, some Tesla owners suggested that Smart Summon isn’t quite ready for the real world just yet.
Posts on social media from excited Tesla owners show the vehicles getting close to other drivers and people.
Some videos show the cars having a difficult time operating through parking lots or driveways. A video from YouTube user Tesla Driver shows his SUV slowly reversing out of his driveway, only to drive over grass and into the direction of his young daughter and dog. A Twitter user saw her purple Tesla run over her grass, too, as it failed to navigate through her driveway.
In other footage, a Tesla driving out of a space in a crowded parking lot was bumped by another car, while another shows a struggling Tesla momentarily blocking traffic in a shopping square as it attempts to drive itself to its owner.
“Be forewarned @Tesla @elonmusk Enhanced [Smart] summon isn’t safe or production-ready,” wrote one Twitter user who posted a picture of his dented Tesla. “Tried in my empty drive way. Car went forward and ran into the side of garage. Love the car but saddened.”
According to CNBC, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now investigating the feature. Tesla did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
But there is a growing collection of videos showing some Tesla vehicles successfully driving themselves through parking lots to their owner.
One of these videos even shows a Tesla pulling up to the front of the store to pick up an owner as rain pours down all around.
This isn’t the only recent instance where a Tesla feature has come under controversy. Earlier this year, a series of viral videos from across the country showed drivers asleep at the wheel while using Tesla’s autopilot feature, which requires drivers to be alert while it’s in use.