| 2:47 PM EST

Consumer Reports Pans Tesla’s Automated Valet

Tesla's new Smart Summon feature, which allows owners to remotely control a driverless car in parking lots, has no obvious consumer benefit, says Consumer Reports.
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Tesla Inc.’s new Smart Summon feature, which allows owners to remotely control a driverless car in parking lots, has no obvious consumer benefit, according to Consumer Reports.

 

The magazine slams the system as an “experimental” feature that shouldn’t be beta-tested with the general public before it’s ready for widespread use. CR tested a Tesla Model 3 sedan equipped with Smart Summon at its own facility and in public parking lots.

The tests follow a flurry of recent social media complaints—including several reported accidents—involving the technology, which debuted at the end of September as part of an over-the-air software update. Last week, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a probe and asked Tesla for more information about the system.

When it works correctly, Smart Summon can slowly drive a vehicle to and from its operator and a parking spot. The system also can maneuver around stationary objects, stop for pedestrians and slow down for cross traffic.

But CR found performance sporadic and “glitchy.” The magazine reports that its test vehicle sometimes stopped for no apparent reason, drove between lanes, strayed erratically from side to side or even went the wrong way down a one-lane aisle. In other cases, the feature worked in some parts of a parking lot but balked at lanes it mistakenly identified as a public road.

Tesla emphasizes that the person operating Smart Summon must be able to view the car, continually monitor its movement and be fully responsible for its safety. The system also requires the user to press and hold the "Come to Me" or “Go to Target” buttons on the smartphone app. If contact isn’t maintained, the system switches off, and the vehicle immediately stops.

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