When one Tesla Model S owner returned to his parked car, he found it smashed up and severely damaged. Tesla said it’s because of his own negligent use of the car’s self-parking Summon feature, KSL reports.
Jared Overton of Utah told KSL that on April 29, he exited his Tesla, began speaking to someone about the car while standing next to it for at least 20 seconds, walked inside a building, and returned five minutes later to find his Model S squished underneath a trailer. He claims he did nothing that should have led to the car driving itself.
According to Overton, when told Tesla about the incident, a regional service manager responded with the following:
“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.”
A Tesla spokesperson provided Tech Insider with the following statement about the incident:
Safety is a top priority at Tesla, and we remain committed to ensuring our cars are among the absolute safest vehicles on today’s roads. It is paramount that our customers also exercise safe behaviour when using our vehicles — including remaining alert and present when using the car’s autonomous features, which can significantly improve our customers’ overall safety as well as enhance their driving experience.
Summon, when used properly, allows Tesla owners to park in narrow spaces that would otherwise have been very difficult or impossible to access. While Summon is currently in beta, each Tesla owner must agree to the following terms on their touch screen before the feature is enabled: “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.”
KSL reports that the letter also said Summon was activated just three seconds after Overton exited the car. That doesn’t line up with Overton’s claim that he was standing by the vehicle for at least 20 seconds.
Furthermore, the letter from Tesla reminds Overton that drivers must be aware that the car’s sensors may not be able to pick up obstacles that are out of the car’s viewing area, which is why drivers must only use Summon when the vehicle is in their direct sight.
As for the damage, it’s not pretty.
From the pictures, it looks like the Model S will definitely be needing a new windshield and probably some relatively major bodywork to the two front pillars.
Though the Summon feature is truly a neat piece of car tech, incidents like this show users also need to be careful when using it. That’s probably why Tesla still considers Summon to be in the beta testing stage.