Tesla restricts autopilot but initiates ability to ‘summon’ car
Mon 11 Jan 2016
In an interview with reporters at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show Elon Musk has confirmed new restrictions in the functionality of last autumn’s ‘autopilot’ functionality in model S sedans, following up on his criticism of the ‘crazy things’ drivers were getting up to with the feature. At the same time a new version of the Tesla automotive software released yesterday introduces a new ‘summon’ feature which allows Tesla cars to park themselves independently – and which, it’s promised, will eventually lead to the ability to summon your Tesla car and have it cross the country in order to meet you.
Musk stated that the upgrade to autopilot will now lead to the cars slowing their speed on the approach to curves in the road, and additionally that the functionality will be curtailed on residential roads or roads without central markings, effectively restricting the car to the road’s speed limit plus 5mph.
Although the revision was expected in the wake of controversial YouTube videos showing Tesla drivers taking dangerous risks with the newly-released autopilot feature, the changes have not been rushed through and are not a response to any accidents or incidents, according to Musk, who claimed that the Tesla self-drive system is “probably better than human at this point in highway driving”.
A press release at the Tesla blog yesterday also introduced the Summon feature, released in the Version 7.1 release of the driving software. Summon initially will allow smart-connected Tesla owners to pull up to their driveways, get out and tell the car to put itself inside the garage, with the car itself opening and closing the garage doors. Similarly owners will be able to tell the car to get itself out of the garage when it’s time to leave again.
However this new functionality, which extends the Tesla vehicles’ capability to self-park, is intended as the initial trial of far broader functionality whereby Summon will permit owners to contact their cars by phone and have the vehicles make independent journeys to meet up with their owners:
‘Eventually, your Tesla will be able to drive anywhere across the country to meet you, charging itself along the way. It will synch with your calendar to know exactly when to arrive.’
The release advises users to limit experimentation with Summon to use on private property during the beta phase.