It was just days ago that we published a massive article detailing countless disasters people have encountered using Tesla’s “Smart” Summon feature. We’ve also reported that the NHTSA has opened an inquiry into the feature.
Now, Consumer Reports is having their say, calling the feature “glitchy” and a “science experiment” in a new review. Smart Summon “doesn’t match the marketing hype,” according to the review.
They tested the feature over several days at their facility and concluded that the “automation was glitchy and at times worked intermittently, without a lot of obvious benefits for consumers.”
Tesla, meanwhile, has pitched Summon as a way to have their car pick them up in everyday situations, such as to avoid walking through the rain. CR didn’t mince words about the feature, with senior director of auto testing Jake Fisher saying that “consumers are not getting fully tested, consumer-ready technology.”
Instead, he makes the damning case that “Tesla owners are being enlisted as beta testers to help fine-tune the technology for the future—even though they’re paying $6,000 up front for the promised automation.”
Also known as vaporware…
“What consumers are really getting is the chance to participate in a kind of science experiment. This is a work in progress.”
CR found that cars using the Summon feature could exit a parking space, turn and start moving toward the vehicle’s owner. They also found that vehicles could stop for pedestrians and slow down as traffic approaches. But it’s the system’s reliability that’s the issue: it “only works intermittently”, the report says, depending on the car’s reading of its surroundings. The Model 3 using Summon didn’t always stay on its side of the lane in the parking lots, either, the report notes.
The review continues:
“In one case, the system worked in one section of a private lot, but in another part of the lot it mistakenly detected that it was on a public road and shut itself down. At various times, our Model 3 would suddenly stop for no obvious reason.”
It also says the Model 3 drove like a “drunken” or “distracted” driver while Summon was activated:
In tests at one lot and at the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center, the vehicle drove in the middle of the traffic lane, not on the side closer to the parked cars, as a human driver would. It would wander left and right as it drove—erratically, like a drunken or distracted driver. In another instance, the Model 3 drove itself the wrong way on a one-way lane. The tester had to run out to the car to move it to allow traffic to begin flowing again.
Ethan Douglas, a senior policy analyst at Consumer Reports in Washington, D.C. said: “Tesla once again is promising ‘full self-driving’ but delivering far less, and now we’re seeing collisions. Tesla should stop beta-testing its cars on the general public by pushing out experimental features before they’re ready.”
Consumer Reports said it reached out to Tesla for comment multiple times, but that the company has been mum. But don’t worry, we’re sure there’s an over-the-air update coming that’s going to fix everything…