Tesla’s new Park Seek feature could find a spot for you while you shop

 An all electric Tesla Model 3 in white on cement road with trees in background on sunny day.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Few things are more frustrating than circling a busy parking lot, looking for an empty spot. It’s annoying and time consuming, especially when smaller cars are hiding behind giant trucks. But as cars gain more autonomy, that frustration may become a thing of the past.

It looks Tesla is working on a feature called “Reverse Summon” or “Park Seek," which could be added to its Full Self Driving Autopilot suite in the near future. So while Summon has a car pull out from a space and come to you, Reverse Summon would see it drop you off and go hunting for somewhere to park.

Comments during Tesla’s recent AI day suggested that such a feature is on the way, and it’s now been added to the automaker’s official Autopilot page (opens in new tab). In the Full-Self Driving Capability section, Tesla notes that arriving at your destination means getting out of your car at the entrance. The car will then enter “Park Seek mode” and find a place to park up while you do what you need to do.

Tesla Park Seek mode illustration

(Image credit: Tesla)

When you’re done the car can then be summoned, a feature that’s already available as part of the Enhanced Autopilot suite, from the Tesla app. The car will pull out by itself, and drive around to wherever you’re waiting. It sounds just like having valet parking, but without having to hand your keys over to another person.

According to Paril Jain, Manager of Autopilot Motion Planning at Tesla, the company plans to add a “parking lot stack” to the Full-Self Driving beta before the end of this year. 

However, based on what Jain said, this will still require you to be sitting in the car while it hunts for a parking space. It doesn’t get you out of the car as soon as you arrive, but at least it means the car would be doing the heavy lifting.

Teslarati (opens in new tab) notes that past rumors suggested that there could be three different modes to Tesla’s eventual self-parking system. They include parking close to the entrance, near the end of the lot and close to a shopping cart return area. Although if you can literally summon a Tesla to your location, it’s not going to make much difference where it was able to park.

Then again Summon in its current form is not known for its accuracy, and even Elon Musk (opens in new tab) admitted it’s “mostly just a fun trick” right now. Considering how much the CEO likes to hype Tesla products, that can be seen as a pretty scathing indictment of the Summon feature. But he claims it will be “sublime” once Summon moves to a single FSD stack. 

There’s been no word on when that will be, but at least it means updates can and will be released in the future. As for a driver-free Park Seek mode, only time will be able to tell us when that might arrive. So sit tight and be patient, and see what Tesla gets up to.

Tom Pritchard
Automotive Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.