Tesla's new Smart Summon: Here's why it has no place in public parking lots

Drivers are using Smart Summon in public parking lots, but Tesla warns it's only for private lots and driveways.

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Tesla drivers in the US are discovering that their car's new Smart Summon option, which is supposed to automatically pick them up, isn't the safest feature to use in a public parking lot. 

Telsa announced the feature in its big V10 software update that shipped to the Model 3, Model S, and Model X last week.

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Smart Summon allows owners to use their smartphone to instruct the car to come to them. As Tesla stressed in its announcement, the feature works when the vehicle is in the owner's line of sight.   

ZDNet sister site CNET reports a number of cases shared on social media in the past few days showing Teslas in Smart Summon mode narrowly avoiding accidents and in some cases resulting in minor bumps

Tesla's communications about Smart Summon have been a little ambiguous. In the announcement, Tesla said owners using Smart Summon "can enable their car to navigate a parking lot and come to them or their destination of choice, as long as their car is within their line of sight".

"It's the perfect feature to use if you have an overflowing shopping cart, are dealing with a fussy child, or simply don't want to walk to your car through the rain," Tesla said. 

That description suggests the feature is intended for public parking lots, such as outside a shopping mall where many owners have been testing it.

However, in the V10 release notes and on Tesla's page about autopilot and full self-driving capability it warns owners only to use it in "private parking lots and driveways". 

"Like Summon, Smart Summon is only intended for use in private parking lots and driveways. You are still responsible for your car and must monitor it and its surroundings at times within your line of sight because it may not detect all obstacles. Be especially careful around quick moving people, bicycles, and cars," Tesla states. 

The Verge has also posted a video of a Tesla owner testing Smart Summon and the vehicle seemingly becomes confused when pedestrians and other cars cross its path in a Walmart parking lot.

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While some owners claim Smart Summon resulted in dings, there are also plenty of owners who've posted videos with Teslas handling the task well

The question is how people will choose to use it in the future. As one excited Tesla owner proclaimed, "This is the future of dumping our kids off at school now." 

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Smart Summon allows owners to use their smartphone to instruct the car to come to them.   

Image: Tesla

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