smart summon
Source: Tesla

The new Smart Summon update in Tesla’s latest V10 software upgrade has been used 550,000 times in just 7 days, as owners of Tesla electric vehicles who bought Full Self Driving (FSD) or Enhanced Autopilot (EAP) try out the newest feature from the Californian car maker.

Smart Summon is proving a prime example of why Tesla vehicles are becoming so popular – they improve with each new software download – and the total for this new feature equates to just shy of 80,000 uses per day since its release.

The figure was announced – via Twitter – this morning (Australian time) by Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk:

Smart Summon, as Tesla describes it, allows owners to direct their vehicle “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”.

It is just one step on Tesla’s path to full self driving technology, and was first rolled out to a limited number of early access program participants in August and then to FSD and EAP customers in the US last week, along with a slew of other features including games, video and music streaming and other improvements.

It’s a big step forward – or should we say, roll forward – for the auto industry, which is being upended not only by a global shift to electro-mobility but also by disruption from Tesla itself, as indicated in its latest announcement of another record-breaking quarter with 97,000 deliveries globally, and slumping petrol car sales.

The idea of a car that can reduce emissions, has no exhaust fumes, is amazing in itself, let alone the fact that it can also come and potentially pick you up from the shop front, saving you a trip with a heavy trolley and possibly a tribe of rugrats.

Of course, like with any new technology, it’s not without its learning curve.

Tesla noted upon the Smart Summon release that, “Like Summon [which drives the Tesla vehicle out of the garage for you], Smart Summon is only intended for use in private parking lots and driveways.

“You are still responsible for your car and must monitor it and its surroundings at all times and be within your line of sight because it may not detect all obstacles. Be especially careful around quick moving people, bicycles and cars,” Tesla stated.

In the wake of the V10 Tesla software rollout, a number of videos have been posted across social media channels by drivers who have experienced bumps and near misses with the Smart Summon feature.

Others have noted that the Smart Summon software can be at times overcautious, such as when this Model 3 stops at a zebra crossing despite there being no-one on it – although being cautious when near a pedestrian crossing, and particularly when being controlled remotely, is how it should be.

“A driver approaching a pedestrian crossing must drive at a speed at which the driver can, if necessary, stop safely before the crossing,” is the legislation according to NSW road rules (this may differ from state to state and country to country).

It will also take some time for non-Tesla owners to become used to seeing cars driving in parking lots without a driver in the seat, like this good samaritan who was concerned until he realised what was happening.

Some have really put Smart Summon to the test by literally putting themselves on the line:

People – and the cars – will get better at using this technology, and there are those that are taking to it like a duck to water:

The amount of data and complexity of algorithms processed to make all this possible is astounding, and Musk’s announcement of over half a million uses of Smart Summon so far is just a drop in the ocean of the amount of data it will be able to gather and use to improve the technology – in fact, the first update is already on its way.

Also, the recent acquisition of AI startup DeepScale by Tesla is also a huge level up for the carmaker in its mission to achieve full self driving, and should prove to go a long way to further improving the tech.

The acquisition has also seen DeepScale CEO and Berkely PhD Forrest Iandola, who specialises in deep neural networks, join Tesla as part of its autonomous machine learning team, possibly filling a gap left by several engineers who departed in recent months.

Australian Tesla owners started receiving V10 upgrades on Sunday. However, until regulatory approval is in place Smart Summon will not be included. As per a statement from Tesla, “currently we are only rolling out Smart Summon to the U.S. market. We are working to bring it to other markets soon.”


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