PALO ALTO (KPIX) — Amid reports of crashes, near-misses and software glitches, there are growing calls for Tesla to put the brakes on a newly-unveiled self-driving feature called Enhanced Summon.
“It is not quite ready yet. It is not safe for the regular person on the road,” said San Jose State University engineering professor Fred Barez.
“You might be able to do this on your own campus. You might be able to do this in an empty parking lot. But if you’re talking about a parking lot of a big shopping mall, I think you’re playing with danger,” Barez said.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk boasted in a tweet that the “Smart Summon” feature had been used more than 500,000 times since it first became available this week.
But Tesla owners took to social media to vent their complaints. One driver tweeted, “Enhanced Summons failed … drove into the parking structure pole.” Others posted YouTube videos in which the car appears to stall or freeze when too many pedestrians or other cars are in its vicinity.
“If there’s problems with the programming, I would say it needs to go back and get cleaned up before it’s just out there for anybody to use,” said driver John Beckmeyer.
The California DMV said that, because the new summon feature does not represent a fully self-driving car, Tesla did not need nor receive any special permission to implement it.
In a prepared statement, a spokesperson for the DMV wrote, “As with any new technology, the DMV indicated to Tesla that clear and effective communication to the driver about the technology’s capabilities and intended use is necessary.”
Some drivers, however, believe the company should hit the brakes on a technology that doesn’t seem to be road-ready yet.
“If I were to pull up next to a car without a driver, I would go in the opposite direction. I might look for a minute or take a picture but I wouldn’t go near it. I don’t trust it at all,” said driver Sydney Ahmadian.