Tesla Motors’ new automatic parking feature left Consumer Reports initially concerned about safety, but now the electric car maker has fixed it. This new feature called Summon, which was rolled out last month, parks and pulls out cars from a parking spot or garage with just a click of a button.
Some blind spots
With the Summon feature, which works on the Model S and Model X, there is no need for the owner to be inside the car when summoning it. According to Tesla, the feature will improve road safety because the sensors in the car will detect obstacles in its path when it is pushed in or pulled out of a parking spot.
However, Consumer Reports conducted tests in which it found that there were blind spots in Tesla’s sensors that missed some narrow objects, especially those positioned low to the ground. Consumer Reports’ test car struck a bicycle and a duffel bag and ended up damaging its wheels.
To use the Summon feature, a person needs to be within 10 feet of the vehicle, and it will pull in and out of parking spaces at a very slow speed. This means that a blind spot in the car’s sensors will not be a problem under ordinary circumstances. When a person uses Summon, he or she will most likely be able to see if there is something in the car’s path and will have sufficient time to stop the car.
Tesla addresses safety concern
Also the Summon feature’s design had a crucial flaw. Before Tesla fixed it, the person could summon the car from the key fob and was not required to constantly hold the button down on the fob or app to keep the car moving. This was dangerous because if the user dropped the keys or accidentally hit the button or closed the app, the car could start driving on its own for up to 33 feet.
With the update from Tesla, the Summon feature is now restricted to the smartphone app, and to engage it, the person is required to keep his finger on the button. Now to summon the car, the key fob will no longer be of any use.