Tesla Motors’ Summon safer now due to Consumer Reports

Tesla apparently didn’t fully test is summon feature when it released the OTA update earlier this year. Consumer Reports Summonstopfound that sometimes the person standing outside the car could push the wrong button and not stop the car in time. The test Tesla ran over a bicycle, duffle bag and curb. Telsa had to change the Autopilot feature to avoid problems on surface streets and now it will change the summon feature.

The Tesla S sensors have blind spots and the sensors that should automatically stop for obstacles didn’t in Consumer Reports testing. Summon used a start and stop function on the key fob or smartphone app. Instead the functions should have been deployed as hold button that when released stopped the car more like a gas pedal.

“We tried out the Model S P85D with several large objects that a homeowner might leave in a driveway or on the floor of a garage—such as a duffel bag and bicycle—and the car failed to stop before hitting them. One of our testers also damaged one of the car’s 21″ wheels against a curb in his garage when using the Summon mode after he was unable to stop it in time.”

The size of these things could also be a sleeping cat or other live creature.

Consumer Reports contacted Tesla and the engineers worked out a fix. A new software upgrade to be deployed later this week that will limit the Summon operation to the smartphone app and require the user to keep his or her finger on the phone screen. Keeping the finger on the screen works as a dead man’s switch.

The  operation of Summon will no longer work with a key fob but the car can be stopped by touching a button on the fob.

Some contend that because the car is only moving at 1mph it is a low risk function. The summon feature is devised so that the driver can be outside of the car while it is parking or leaving the space, allowing it to vehicle to fit into smaller parking spaces.

From a Tesla Blog post about summon, Tesla defended the feature on February 8.

“By enabling remote retrieval of Model S or Model X from a parking space, Summon provides the driver with a direct line of sight to the danger zones around it. At the same time, ultrasonic sensors placed around the vehicle proactively guard against any unseen or moving hazards and enable the car to stop upon detection. If at any time during the Summon maneuver the driver decides to stop Model S or Model X, he or she can do so with a simple tap of the app, keyfob, or a door handle. While these additional layers of security will not completely eliminate accidents when using semi-autonomous features like Summon, when used correctly, they can reduce their occurrence relative to conventional driving.”

Then a few days later issued a statement to Consumer Reports.