Recently Tesla owners worldwide went mad for a software upgrade for the Model S which included a long talked about feature called “Summon” which would have the car drive itself to you from the garage to the driveway. The problem is, it was not available to Australian Tesla owners – until now.
At the end of last year I asked BMW if we could review their 7 series – a flagship of technological innovation for BMW. In preparing to review the car last month the overwhelming feature of choice in Europe was the remote control in the key.
This BMW remote allowed you to be outside the car and use the key to drive it into a car-space, out of a car-space or in and out of the garage.
Disappointingly, that feature was not present on the BMW we drove. Not because the option had not been selected when the car was built – because Australian regulations didn’t allow it.
Tesla owners were victims of this same legislation, but there’s a big difference between Tesla and BMW. Tesla is a software driven vehicle. BMW is not.
To add this feature to the BMW would require a new key. The European BMW 7 Series “display key” has a button on the side that is used to perform the remote parking. Without that button, even a software upgrade to the car can’t enable the feature.
So Telsa have today announced software version 7.1.1 – which introduces “Summon” to Australian Tesla Model S vehicles.
It is not the same as the US version, however, the basic concept is there, and it fits within Australian regulations.
You use your smartphone to summon the car out of it’s parking space. That’s about as good as it gets – and lets be clear, that’s a big step forward. But it’s a long way from the USA.
In the US you can summon the car just using the car key. And from your smartphone you don’t need to be in range of the car.
Australian owners will basically need to be standing beside their car to make it work. And the auto-park functionality which allows you to double tap the park button, exit the car and then it just goes off and parks itself in your garage – also missing in Australia.
So a poor mans summon feature many would argue. From Tesla’s perspective it’s a big step forward, but a long way to go.
Tesla say “the Summon feature in Beta. This means that it is customer ready, however will continually be improved over time”
It is however another example of how a software company with its eyes firmly on the future of autonomous driving is working at a rapid pace with government and its own internal engineers to bring change to motoring.
Here are the full details of how Summon works in Australia:
INSTRUCTIONS TO SUMMON
The Summon feature, allows you to now park Model S from outside the vehicle. This feature is especially useful for parking in tight spaces and narrow garages. Before you can use Summon, you must enable it via the SUMMON setting in Controls > Settings > Driver Assistance > AUTOPARK.
To prepare to park with Summon, align Model S within approximately 10 metres of the final parking space so it can drive straight into the space in either Drive or Reverse. With Model S in Park, stand within key fob detection range of the vehicle and use the Tesla mobile app to move the car forward or back into the parking space. Model S will move up to 10 metres or until the sensors detect an obstacle, at which point parking is considered completed and Summon will shift the car to Park.
Repeat the process above to use Summon to exit a parking spot remotely.
You can stop Model S at any time while Summon is in progress using the mobile app, by pressing any button on the key fob, or by pressing any Model S door handle.