Crashes, near-collisions of self-driving Tesla cars in carparks spark alarm

US regulators are looking into parking lot crashes involving Tesla cars driving themselves to their owners using the company’s Smart Summon feature, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Wednesday.

UNITED STATES (REUTERS) - United States regulators are looking into carpark crashes involving Tesla cars driving themselves to their owners using the company’s Smart Summon feature, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Wednesday (Oct 2). 

Tesla's new "smart summon" feature, designed to function as an automated valet, is at times causing some close calls in America's carparks. 

The feature enables customers to use an app to summon their driverless Tesla vehicle to leave a parking space and navigate around obstacles to meet its owner.

But soon after the feature was rolled out last week as part of a software update, some customers started posting videos of near-collisions. 

Footage includes this one from Frisco, Texas, which shows a red Model 3 Tesla nearly colliding with an SUV as it pulls out of a private carpark to meet its owner.

The user told Reuters: "I had to take my finger off the button when I saw that my Tesla wasn't slowing down."

Another customer in Omaha, Nebraska, told Reuters that while he loves his Tesla, the summons feature has not functioned as expected. His car took a longer route through an empty carpark to make its way back to him.

But there were plenty of examples on Twitter where the Smart Summon feature worked just fine. This user, for instance, called it "extremely epic".

 
 

Tesla did not respond to requests for comment.

The company warns users that "Smart Summon is only intended for use in private parking lots and driveways", adding: "You are still responsible for your car and must monitor it and its surroundings at all times."

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Wednesday it is aware of some minor crashes with the new feature... adding that the agency will not hesitate to act if it finds evidence of a safety-related defect."