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Consumer Reports Calls Telsa's New Smart Summon Feature ‘Glitchy'

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【Summary】After thoroughly testing Tesla’s new Smart Summon feature, consumer watchdog publication Consumer Reports said automated parking system is “glitchy” and only works intermittently, raising questions about why Tesla released it to the public so soon.

Eric Walz    Oct 09, 2019 10:00 AM PT
Consumer Reports Calls Telsa's New Smart Summon Feature ‘Glitchy'
With "Smart Summon" Tesla models autonomously drive to an owner's location in a parking lot.

Two weeks ago, Tesla pushed a software update (Version 10.0) to its vehicles allowing for some cool new entertainment features as well as "Smart Summon" a new feature that allows drivers to "summon" their parked Tesla and have it drive autonomously to their location to pick them up.

After thoroughly testing Tesla's Smart Summon, consumer watchdog publication Consumer Reports said automated parking system is "glitchy" and only works intermittently, raising questions about why Tesla released it to the public so soon.

Some owners reported that their Tesla's didn't perform the summon maneuver that well. Tesla owners have posted widely-shared videos on social media showing Tesla vehicles driving erratically while being summoned. 

One owner watched as their vehicle backed into their garage wall. Other Tesla drivers said their vehicle hit other vehicles while some reported near-miss accidents and other odd driving behavior causing traffic jams in parking lots.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said last week it was looking into parking lot crashes of Tesla Model 3s trying to drive to owners under the Smart Summon feature.

"Consumers are not getting fully tested, consumer-ready technology," Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at the magazine said here in a report on Tuesday.

"What consumers are really getting is the chance to participate in a kind of science experiment."

The Smart Summon feature works when the car is within 200 feet and in line of sight. Driver's can use the Tesla smartphone app to summon the vehicle in a parking lot. The summon feature was designed to make its easier for a driver that might be carrying groceries after a shopping trip or when its raining outside.

So far, Tesla has not commented on the issue. Tesla claims that Smart Summon is only intended for use in private parking lots and driveways. 

The company stressed that drivers are responsible for their cars car and must monitor it and its surroundings at all times, adding that driver should be extra vigilant around pedestrians, bicycles and cars. However, that logic confusing, since the car is driving autonomously when being summoned and no driver is actually behind the wheel.

Despite the reported problems, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Oct 2 that customer response has been positive and that Smart Summon has been used over 550,000 times by Tesla drivers.

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