When you nail it, you know you nailed it.
Then, there’s Elon Musk.
He thought he nailed Tesla’s new “Smart Summon” — a new feature allowing Tesla owners to use the Tesla app and have their cars drive to the app’s location without a driver.
Pretty neat, huh?
Well, some of the snags in the software reported by Tesla owners have caught the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Now, don’t be misled. There have actually been documented successful uses of the “Smart Summon:”
— Jayviator (@problematique79) September 27, 2019
— Joseph Schager (@JosephSchager) September 28, 2019
But, it’s video like this one:
— Roddie Hasan – راضي (@eiddor) September 28, 2019
And this one that have caught the eye of the NHTSA:
According to a report in Bloomberg, the government agency has said it “will not hesitate to act” if evidence is presented of a safety defect in the program.
In the interest of full disclosure, the Summon is “only intended for use in private parking lots and driveways.” The Tesla website goes on to say:
“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.”
And, for what it’s worth, Musk has claimed the feature has been used more than 550,000 times.
Over 550,000 Tesla Smart Summon uses in first few days!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 2, 2019
And, it should also be noted that neither the NHTSA, nor the state of California — where Tesla is headquartered — require the automaker to have a permit for a new system that complies with federal auto safety standards.
So, my first question is: Just where are you supposed to use this app? Backing out of your driveway seems pretty pointless for the app’s use. You’re likely to just get into the car rather than have it back out or drive around to you.
So, that leaves private parking lots. But, as you can see, owners are using the feature in various parking lots.
I guess it is safe to say that Tesla owners bear some of the responsibility here because they were warned when to use it and how to use it. Tesla can’t really be held liable if car owners disregard that advice.
However, I think Tesla gets some of the blame here if something goes wrong.
I mean, if you claim this is “probably our most viral feature ever,” then you probably want to work out as many bugs as you possible before releasing it to the huddled masses.
Probably our most viral feature ever. Most of the Autopilot team has been working on this, led by Ashok, CJ, Andrej & many others.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 30, 2019
The news that the NHTSA is keeping close eye on Tesla over its Summon technology comes the same week the company reported weaker-than-expected third quarter deliveries, sending the stock plunging 6% earlier in the week.
The company said it delivered around 97,000 vehicles in the third quarter, which was just off of the 100,000 the company was expecting to deliver.
Stack that on top of lawsuits over exploding cars and Autopilot malfunctions, and you have a pretty hot mess in Tesla.