Tesla is patenting its smart summon feature built around Autopilot and the patent is co-authored by Elon Musk himself.
Smart Summon builds on Tesla’s previous “Summon” feature, which was used by owners to move their cars autonomously for a few feet in their driveway or in tight parking situations.
With the new version, owners are able to Summon their Tesla vehicles from further away, and the cars will navigate more complex parking environments.
CEO Elon Musk described Smart Summon as “Tesla’s most viral feature.”
A few weeks after the release, it had already been used over 550,000 times and several Tesla owners posted videos of their vehicles being involved in crashes and near misses while testing the new Smart Summon feature.
Now the automaker is patenting the feature.
Tesla describes it in the abstract of the patent called ”Autonomous and User Controlled Vehicle Summon to a Target”:
“A processor coupled to memory is configured to receive an identification of a geographical location associated with a target specified by a user remote from a vehicle. A machine learning model is utilized to generate a representation of at least a portion of an environment surrounding the vehicle using sensor data from one or more sensors of the vehicle. At least a portion of a path to a target location corresponding to the received geographical location is calculated using the generated representation of the at least portion of the environment surrounding the vehicle. At least one command is provided to automatically navigate the vehicle based on the determined path and updated sensor data from at least a portion of the one or more sensors of the vehicle.”
Interestingly, Elon Musk is listed as a co-author on the patent, which is rare for the CEO.
Though to be fair, he is one of 18 authors on the patent.
Tesla filed for the patent in early 2019, but it was published for the first time yesterday.
The description of the feature is fairly close to what Tesla has already implemented with some hints at some improvements — like three-dimension detection to include altitude in order for the feature to work with multi-level parking garages.
Here’s the patent application in full:
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