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Autonomous Vehicles

Published on September 30th, 2019 | by Zachary Shahan

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Tesla Smart Summon Tests Show Oodles Of Laughter (10 Videos)

September 30th, 2019 by  


Tesla vehicle software version 10 (v10) rolled out to Tesla owners across the United States and Europe over the weekend. When I got a sneak preview of the software a couple of weeks ago, I called it “freakin’ awesome,” and as it hit the public at the end of last week, I declared that the software update had won the internet. But I honestly didn’t realize what was in store for us.

While there are several noteworthy improvements, like better Autopilot (the driving and the visualizations) and Spotify (for Americans), the two monumental updates that I think are set to transform lifestyles are: 1) the new Tesla Theater mode (you can watch Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu from your car, with amazing home theater sound quality), and 2) Smart Summon (within a certain radius, the car will come to you when you summon it via the phone app, or you place a target on a map and tell it where to go park).

I expected to see people thrilled about various features, but especially these two. However, I was not prepared for how much my Twitter feed would get overwhelmed with videos and tweets about Smart Summon. I’ll share some of those below, but first, I’ll share what friend & longtime Tesla employee* David Havasi and I did with Smart Summon a few hours ago.

Funny side story: David first tried Smart Summon last night and sent me an excited message that ended with this completely natural response: “It was wild!” I pulled up to a ChargePoint station this morning and started to type a response, but then I thought I’d give it a shot myself for a moment first. As I was doing so, he happened to pull up at the same charging station. He was also about to test it out again. With my phone almost dead and needing to charge for a while in the car, we used his grey Model 3.

To explain what we tried to do with his Model 3 Long Range (as if it was a simple remote-controlled car that we could carelessly drive around a mall parking lot), I need to start with a map. Unfortunately, the Google satellite image of this location is super old, but it’s useful enough for explaining the route:

The car had to turn left out of the EV parking area and then take a quick turn right at a stop sign. It did take a while for the car to get through that somewhat challenging area, but the Model 3 accomplished its first mission. The thing that surprised me the most, though, is hard to see here. Right after turning right, the valet driveway is right in front of you, and while it is two cars wide, you are only supposed to drive out from that side, not in. I thought the Tesla, not knowing it was a one-way driveway, might continue straight and go right into that driveway in order to pick up David (the mall wasn’t open yet and there were no cars blocking the route). If it had done so, it would have easily driven right next to that white truck parked on the dirt in the screenshot above (that spot is a big sidewalk now, but you can already basically see where the valet driveway is — the ground is darker there). To my surprise, the car was smart enough to know that it shouldn’t go straight into that driveway. It instead drove along the orange line I drew on top of the screenshot.

What you don’t see in the pic but can see in the video below is that on the mall side of that orange line there’s a long fountain, bushes, and a university sign separating the roadway from the valet driveway. For some reason, the car paused for a bit right there and I thought it wanted to drive through the fountain for some reason and was going to abort Summon. However, it was apparently just figuring something out and after a few moments proceeded to the target, David. Check that out in the video:

Well, that was our fun little experiment, but there have been some more dramatic ones and ones highlighting specific edge cases posted on Twitter in the past few days. Here are a handful of my favorites:

My, how far we’ve come from the days of horses and buggies (and invisible horses) …

To close, here are a couple of quick reminders of why this is really important:


Yes, on the whole, we continue to fail future generations, and even our own, but cleantech companies that make zero-emissions lifestyles cool and fun are doing what they can to stimulate change. They are pulling “normal people” into cleantech who would have otherwise taken decades to drive electric or go solar. I can’t think of a company that does that more or better than Tesla.

*2012–2019

If you’d like to buy a Tesla and get some free Supercharging miles, feel free to use our referral code: https://ts.la/zachary63404. Or not. 
 
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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the CEO of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he offers no investment advice and does not recommend investing in Tesla or any other company.



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