So far, Tesla’s Smart Summon feature is far from flawless

Tesla may have to start calling its new Smart Summon feature Risky Retrieval. According to Reuters, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating a number of parking lot crashes and near-misses that occurred while Tesla owners were using a special app that asks the car to drive itself to their location.

According to Tesla’s website, Smart Summon allows customers who have purchased Full Self-Driving Capability or Enhanced Autopilot “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.” Unfortunately, some owners probably aren’t liking the sight they’re seeing.

Reuters points out that several videos have been posted on social media showing Tesla vehicles in near-accidents while using the Smart Summon feature, and at least two videos show actual collisions. In one, a Tesla crashes into a garage wall, while another shows a Tesla being hit by a vehicle as it backs up. Tesla unveiled the new Smart Summon software update less than a week ago.

The NHTSA says it “is aware of reports related to Tesla’s Summon feature. We are in ongoing contact with the company and we continue to gather information. Safety is NHTSA’s top priority and the agency will not hesitate to act if it finds evidence of a safety-related defect.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted Wednesday that customers used the Smart Summon feature more than 550,000 times in its first few days after the software update, but he did not comment on the NHTSA reports.

Tesla Model 3

Although Tesla promises that a vehicle using Smart Summon “will maneuver around or stop for objects and notify you when detected,” it cautioned that users are “still responsible for your car and must monitor it and its surroundings at all times.” In order for Smart Summon to work, users must be within 200 feet of their car, and they can stop the vehicle by releasing button within the app.

According to Reuters, Tesla driver Roddie Hasan tweeted a video that shows a Tesla exit a parking space and start to cross a driveway, nearly colliding with an SUV. “First test of Smart Summon didn’t go so well,” Hasan wrote.

The malfunctioning feature would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. Ah, what the heck…

Roy Rogers, “King of the Cowboys,” pioneered Smart Summon in the 1930s and ’40s by whistling for his obedient horse, Trigger. In a related story, confidential sources say there is no truth to the rumor that Tesla’s new Karaoke feature is causing an increase in canine hearing loss.

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