Tesla has nearly finished a “trippy” new feature, CEO Elon Musk revealed on Thursday. The company’s upcoming upgrades to “Summon,” the feature that sends the car in and out of parking spots, is expected to allow users to ask their car to follow them like a pet and remotely control the car via smartphone.
The feature is one of the most anticipated upgrades for Tesla Autopilot, the semi-autonomous driving system that uses cameras and sensors to move the company’s electric vehicles in limited situations. Summon was originally released in the fall of 2015 with the ability to open a garage door, enter, park and shut down, plus the option to complete the reverse action and to move in and out of parking spots. Musk explained in November that the new version “will drive to your phone location & follow you like a pet if you hold down summon button on Tesla app,” while also giving owners the ability “to drive it from your phone remotely like a big RC car if in line of sight.”
The feature, Musk explained, may face some regulatory hurdles. This is an issue also expected to affect Tesla’s full self-driving feature, which will drive users point-to-point with no intervention. Tesla sales advisors have been warning consumers that want to place a $5,000 pre-order that the legal aspect is “very far away…especially in Europe,” and that “even when we have the hardware ready, and your car would have it, you would most likely not be able to use it for a very long time.”
Tesla has big plans to expand Summon further. In November, Musk stated that “in a few years,” users will be able to hail their car from across the continent. The prospect of empty Teslas whizzing around the roads has been criticized by some, with Sam Abuelsamid, senior analyst for Navigant Research, telling Inverse last month that the idea is “just a waste of resources and thousands of deadhead miles, something that is antithetical to sustainable transportation.”
Expect Tesla’s upcoming Summon upgrades to start making their way to early software testers “in a few weeks,” according to Musk.
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