Tesla Motors has reportedly agreed to tweak its Summon feature after Consumer Reports raised a safety concern.
The system allows a driver to remotely ‘summon’ the vehicle from or into a tight garage or parking space. The Model S will drive itself in and out, as long as the driver is within a distance of 10 feet from the vehicle.
“As we used the system, we became concerned that, in an emergency, a user might not be able stop the car right away if they were to press the wrong part of the key fob (the buttons are not marked) or if they dropped the key fob,” CR warned.
Tesla already programmed a few safety provisions into the system. It will shut itself down if the motor requires too much torque to drive over an obstacle, while sensors determine if the vehicle is nearing any obstacles.
Despite the failsafes, CR tests found that the car failed to stop before hitting a duffel bag and a bicycle. An employee is also said to have damaged the Model S’ wheel when using the summon feature in a garage with a curb inside.
“Obviously, Tesla doesn’t intend for the Model S to be used in Summon mode unsupervised, but if the car cannot be relied upon to stop itself to avoid any obstacle, then it must have a foolproof way for the user to apply the brakes remotely,” the magazine added.
The vehicle is only moving at a speed of approximately one mph while Summon is active, however Tesla agreed to change the system to better avoid potential mishaps. Users will be required to keep their finger on the virtual button in Tesla’s smartphone app until the Model S has finished maneuvering. The approach forces users to be slightly more engaged and protects against accidents if the phone or key fob is dropped.
Tesla has not outlined a time-frame for implementing the change.