The car’s “Smart Summon” feature was activated during the incident. The feature, which was launched in September, allows a Tesla owner to literally “summon” their car using the Tesla app on their phone. The car will drive itself to the driver from a maximum distance of 200 feet.
According to Tesla’s website, Smart Summon is the “perfect feature to use if you have an overflowing shopping cart, are dealing with a fussy child, or simply don’t want to walk to your car through the rain.”
However, it appears as though Smart Summon still needs some work, as many Tesla owners have shared their experiences of the technology failing.
— Roddie Hasan - راضي (@eiddor) September 28, 2019
“It is not quite ready yet. It is not safe for the regular person on the road,” Fred Barez, an engineering professor at San Jose State, told CBS last month, also noting that the feature is another instance of Tesla beta testing its features on cars citizens are driving in the real world, rather than in controlled environments.
— jamie coulter (@fj4518) September 27, 2019
“You might be able to do this on your own campus. You might be able to do this at a deserted location, but if you’re talking about a parking lot at a big shopping mall, I think you’re playing with danger,” said Barez.
Tesla has also warned users to exercise caution when using the Smart Summon feature.
“You are still responsible for your car and must monitor it and its surroundings at all times and be within your line of sight because it may not detect all obstacles. Be especially careful around quick moving people, bicycles and cars," the company’s website states.