Safety and convenience features in cars are astonishing. Just look at Tesla’s new “Smart Summon” feature. Drivers can call their parked car to come to their location without needing a driver behind the wheel. For Tesla owners, this could put an end to the treachery of running across a flooded parking lot in the rain after shopping. But what about the rest of us?
Like all new technologies, Tesla’s Smart Summon is facing criticism. Most notably, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is concerned about accident reports related to the feature. Several reports of accidents and near-accidents have hit social media, along with support and criticism.
The NHTSA notes that Smart Summon is only designed to be used in parking lots, and should not be used in situations where the car is out of the owner’s view. It is designed for use within 200 feet. Of course, many owners have shared video of them using the feature improperly, such as in a driveway or on the road.
One of the most significant safety concerns is that Tesla’s driverless features don’t seem to know how to respond to pedestrians. Most driverless features are designed to recognize vehicles, not smaller objects like pedestrians or bicycles.
Because of safety concerns, the NHTSA is working with Tesla and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to investigate whether the feature is safe. In the meantime, consumers seem to be excited about the continuing road to autonomous cars.