New Tesla Summon Feature to Allow Fully Autonomous Parking

Apparently, driving while using a smartphone will soon take on a whole different meaning as Tesla’s enhanced “Summon” is coming. It’s a feature that allows you to control your vehicle via a smartphone app, what’s better than that?

The electric automaker will start releasing new software that gives its cars a self-parking ability, according to a tweet from Elon Musk. Even further, the future upgrade to the system will enable Tesla cars to understand parking signs and follow them, finding parking spots by themselves, and reverse into it.

Similar auto-parking features are actually also offered by some other automakers, especially in their latest, most expensive models. They usually allow a driver to park the car with the tap of a button, although the search of a spot still needs to be done manually, as well as throttling and braking during parking.

In contrast, Tesla’s “Summon” would allow you to step out of all this trouble almost entirely. The initial update to the current version of the system would let the vehicle operation be done from outside. All you need to do is holding a button on a Tesla app on your smartphone while guiding the car into a spot.

According to Musk, the car will drive to the phone location, thus following its owner “like a pet”. This cool feature will be available on all Teslas produced in past 2 years. The new Model 3 saloon is also compatible, as well as recent Model S and X cars that pack Tesla’s latest Autopilot gear. Musk says that the more advanced “Summon” could be rolled out by next year.

The feature is great alright, but it remains to be seen whether anyone will be able to legally utilize it. With new self-driving car guidelines still in the work, state regulators require a human driver to stay at the wheel whenever a car is moving. States and some municipalities actually also set individual rules for how a car can drive, with half of the states have allowed self-driving cars to perform some testing on public roads.

However, we have to remember what we’re talking about here: it’s a technology that doesn’t have a brain and consciousness like a human does. So it still needs to be closely monitored by a licensed driver at the wheel, just in case there’s an emergency that requires immediate takeover of control. Well, at least that’s what the rules say.

One of the few states that have green-lighted testing of fully autonomous cars is California – without a person behind the wheel, and possibly even without driver controls in the car. But these kind of vehicles require specific registration and authorization in those states. Now the biggest question is, will a car in a parking lot be legally allowed to self-drive like a pet?

Tesla is isn’t the only automaker playing with this astonishing parking technology. Volvo and BMW are also in the game. BMW has installed the feature on some models, although its usage is strictly limited to a few places, including Britain, where new rules allow driverless cars to park autonomously.

The expansion of self-driving technologies will surely take time in the US. The country’s congress is moving ahead on it, and there’s a big support for a federal bill that would allow driverless cars to perform more maneuvers, which could include the one being introduced by Tesla.

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