While Tesla’s Autopilot is very much a driver assist system and not a ‘self-driving car’ as it is often reported in the mainstream media, its ‘Summon’ feature is probably the closest thing to “self-driving” today.
It has been available for first generation Autopilot cars since January 2016, but the new 8.1 update brought the feature to second generation Autopilot cars last week and it is now being tested by owners.
I say it’s the closest thing to self-driving because the feature moves the cars without anyone in it. It covers the “self” part of “self-driving”, but it’s the “driving” that is a stretch since we are talking about a range of only 39 feet and only at extremely low-speed.
The feature is primarily used to get in and out of parking spaces and garages.
‘Summon” is expected to get significantly better on the Autopilot’s new suite of hardware since it mostly uses the ultrasonic sensors, which are more precise and have twice the range on the second generation versus the first.
As it currently stands, Tesla’s Autopilot 2.0 doesn’t make full use of its 8 cameras all around the vehicles, but that will also obviously help for the Summon feature once enabled.
Right now, the feature appears comparable to Summon on Autopilot 1.0, but as it improves, Tesla aims to transition the feature to “Smart Summon” as part of its ‘Enhanced Autopilot’ suite of convenience features:
“With Smart Summon, your car will navigate more complex environments and parking spaces, maneuvering around objects as necessary to come find you.”
Here are a few tests to show where they are in the development on Autopilot 2.0 with the latest update: