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Tesla Announces Plans For Self-Driving Cars… Without A Driver

Update: Tesla also published an official video for Summon today which formally adds it to the Autopilot suite:

On the heels of the soft launch of firmware version 7.1 this past weekend, Tesla dropped a new blog post with the official perspective on the latest firmware release and it contains a bombshell update. We noted that the new firmware includes the Summon feature which allows drivers to get out of the car and trigger the car to self-park — without a driver. Tesla builds on this obvious stepping stone in the blog post:

“Eventually, your Tesla will be able to drive anywhere across the country to meet you, charging itself along the way. It will synch with your calendar to know exactly when to arrive.”

This is HUGE for Tesla, as the update provides stepping stone details about the path towards autonomous driving (which was our assessment of v7.1). Reading into the details, it is clear that Tesla is developing plans to enable cars to:

  • Drive long distances with no humans in the car
  • Self-charge at Superchargers with no human interaction
  • Generate intelligent destinations based on calendar data

Tesla Model S Self Park Feature | Image Credit: Tesla Motors

Essentially, Tesla vehicles will be automated personal taxis that can charge themselves and meet you wherever you need to be, without having to be told. Presumably, the owner would want to confirm the destination before allowing the car to drive across the country to meet them in New York City… but the fact that it will be possible is amazing. This is a fantastic build on the road towards fully autonomous driving.

Elon was obviously excited about the news, as he dropped a few tweets about the new features, specifically indicating how critical they are along the way towards fully autonomous vehicles and the exciting auto-valet functionality:

The full blog post from the official Tesla blog is below:

Summon Your Tesla from Your Phone

The Tesla Motors Team
January 10, 2016

Last Fall, Tesla Version 7.0 software introduced a range of new Autopilot active safety and convenience features to give you more confidence behind the wheel, increase your safety on the road, and make highway driving more enjoyable. The release of Tesla Version 7.1 software continues our improvements to self-driving technology. This release expands Autopilot functionality and introduces the first iteration of Summon.

Using Summon, once you arrive home and exit Model S or Model X, you can prompt it to do the rest: open your garage door, enter your garage, park itself, and shut down. In the morning, you wake up, walk out the front door, and summon your car. It will open the garage door and come to greet you. More broadly, Summon also eliminates the burden of having to squeeze in and out of tight parking spots. During this Beta stage of Summon, we would like customers to become familiar with it on private property. Eventually, your Tesla will be able to drive anywhere across the country to meet you, charging itself along the way. It will synch with your calendar to know exactly when to arrive.

The release of Tesla Version 7.1 software is the next step toward developing fully autonomous driving capabilities and delivering them through over-the-air software updates, keeping our customers at the forefront of driving technology in the years ahead.

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