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Tesla's New Smart Summon Feature Is a Disaster So Far

(Image credit: Tesla)

Tesla just released an insanely cool feature, but it might not actually be ready for people to use. 

The new feature, called Smart Summon, reverses the Tesla out of a parking space and navigates the car toward you, if you’re holding your smartphone and purchased the full self-driving package for your Tesla. But like many technological achievements that sound amazing on paper, there have been some unintended consequences. Namely that the car doesn’t seem to know when it’s approaching an obstacle, and has no sense of when another car is crossing its path.

Tesla describes Smart Summon as such on its website: “Your car will navigate more complex environments and parking spaces, maneuvering around objects as necessary to come find you in a parking lot.” It’s very cool technology.

But in videos shared on YouTube and Twitter, and reported by The Verge, Smart Summon isn’t operate as smoothly as it should. In one video, the car reverses out of its space and approaches the driver, but nearly hits an oncoming SUV entering the parking lot.

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In another video, the car is clearly confused by an oncoming truck and then pedestrians who aren’t in the Tesla’s path, but are gawking at the spectacle off to the side. It takes several minutes for Tesla to make its way to its driver, which, at that point, isn’t convenient at all. Someone tried out Smart Summon in his driveway and ended up with a dented Tesla after the car ran into the garage. Not ideal.

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Other Tesla owners have reported minor accidents due to Smart Summon. Tesla, for its part, says that the feature requires human supervision. The question as to whether Smart Summon isn’t advanced enough for the public to use or whether Tesla owners are using the feature irresponsibly won’t matter if someone is injured.

Caitlin is a Senior editor for Gizmodo. She has also worked on Tom's Guide, Macworld, PCWorld and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. When she's not testing out the latest devices, you can find her running around the streets of Los Angeles, putting in morning miles or searching for the best tacos.