Tesla Model S
A Tesla Model S driver in Utah, Jared Overton, says that he parked his car behind a trailer before running an errand for a few minutes. When he returned to his vehicle, he says he found it crashed in the back of the trailer with the windshield crushed by the trailer’s bed. The owner claims the car decided to move forward on its own, but after verifying the logs, Tesla claims that the ‘Summon’ feature, which allows the vehicle to drive itself on short distances without anyone in the car, was activated seconds after the car was parked. Overton spoke with local news KSL and said that after exiting the vehicle, he stuck around the car for “at least 20 seconds” because a passerby asked him a question about it and therefore, he would have seen or heard the vehicle crash into the trailer. Tesla requires everyone using the ‘Summon’ feature, which is currently in beta release, to stay around the vehicle and monitor its moves in order to stop it if it looks like it is not detecting an object. In this case, it’s easy to see how the car’s front sensors, other than than the front facing camera, wouldn’t have detected the trailer’s bed which is at a significant distance from its rear-axle. The regional service manager sent Overton the following statement obtained by KSL: “Tesla has reviewed the vehicle’s logs, which show that the incident occurred as a result of the driver not being properly attentive to the vehicle’s surroundings while using the Summon feature or maintaining responsibility for safely controlling the vehicle at all times,” In reaction to the statement, Overton said: “They can tell me what they want to tell me with the logs, but it doesn’t change what we know happened here.” The Tesla driver is adamant that he didn’t activate the Summon feature himself and that the car didn’t start the function right after he exited the vehicle since he would have been able to watch it happen: “They’re just assuming that I sat there and watched it happen, and I was OK with that,” Other than the regional manager, Tesla didn’t address Overton’s case directly, but the company issued a statement about the Summon feature: “This feature will park Model S while the driver is outside the vehicle. Please note that the vehicle may not detect certain obstacles, including those that are very narrow (e.g., bikes), lower than the fascia, or hanging from the ceiling. As such, Summon requires that you continually monitor your vehicle’s movement and surroundings while it is in progress and that you remain prepared to stop the vehicle at any time using your key fob or mobile app or by pressing any door handle. You must maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle when using this feature and should only use it on private property.” Earlier this year, Tesla added a “dead man’s switch” the Summon feature after Consumer Reports found a small safety concern following some tests similar to Overton’s situation.