Tesla is rolling out an update to its electric vehicles that will ask drivers to confirm the direction of travel when Summon is activated, suggests a Reddit user today. This update follows the news last week when a Model S in Utah autonomously crashed into the back of a parked trailer while in Summon mode.
A reminder for drivers
Tesla’s self-parking feature known as Summon was first rolled out in January and can be activated in two ways. One is via a phone app, and the other is via the gear selector from inside the car. The self-parking maneuver initiated from inside the car by using the gear selector could have caused the electric car to drive itself forward by default.
Prior to this update, the electric vehicle would have driven itself forward, and the driver has to choose reverse from the center display. Now the driver will need to choose reverse or forward each and every time they trigger the Summon feature.
Theoretically, the Utah incident may have never happened if this feature change had already been in place because the driver would have had to explicitly specify that they wanted the electric vehicle to drive forward into the trailer. Even prior to this update, various warnings were displayed after the Summon feature had been activated, but it is quite possible that a careless driver would have not noticed them or simply ignored them.
Tesla making life easier for drivers
Frequently, to limit liability and make it as hard as possible for cars to be misused, automakers choose to “dumb down” features in their vehicles. A common instance is navigation systems that lock out destination entry when the car is in motion, which prevents the driver from trying to enter an address while driving.
Whatever may be the case, the sensors on Tesla vehicles now should be capable of preventing a vehicle in Summon mode from crashing into a large parked object. Tesla, however, does warn that the sensors may not “detect certain obstacles, including those that are very narrow (e.g., bikes), lower than the fascia, or hanging from the ceiling.”
A Tesla spokesperson shared no details about if the update is in response to the recent crash but said, “Tesla is always making improvements to features in our vehicles.”
On Tuesday, Tesla shares closed down 1.74% at $204.66. Year to date, the stock is down more than 14%, while in the last year, it is down almost 18%. The stock has a 52-week high $286.65 and a 52-week low of $141.05.