Tesla Model S Owner Says His Car Crashed Itself, Tesla Says Otherwise – Video

2 years ago by Jay Cole 120

A Utah County Model S owner is stating that his Tesla Model S decided to take a joyride on its own, and crashed into the back of a trailer, via a report from KSL.

Tesla Model S Meets Trailer During Summon - Specific Events In Dispute (via KSL)

Tesla Model S Meets Trailer During Summon – Specific Events In Dispute (via KSL)

According to the owner – Jared Overton, he states he was running errands on the 29th of April and parked his car far behind a trailer near 400 North and 1030 West in Lindon, when someone (a worker at the establishment) stopped to ask him about the car.

“You know, Tesla’s kind of a flashy car — he’d never seen one in person,” Overton said to KSL

Then Overton says a good 20 seconds to a minute passed outside the vehicle after talking to the worker, before the two went inside the business. When he returned 5 minutes later, he found his Model S had impacted the trailer, all on its own.

“We were trying to figure out how on earth the vehicle started on its own,” Overton said. “What happened with this kind of rogue vehicle?”

Tesla Model S Impacts Trailer (via KSL)

Tesla Model S Impacts Trailer (via KSL)

Mr. Overton reported the incident to Tesla, and the company sent him a letter backing stating that it was driver/owner error:

“Tesla has reviewed the vehicle’s logs, which show that the incident occurred as a result of the driver not being properly attentive to the vehicle’s surroundings while using the Summon feature or maintaining responsibility for safely controlling the vehicle at all times.” 

The letter went on to state specifics of the incident, that three seconds after exiting the car, the Summon function initiated.

Another Look At Model S Impact With Trailer (via KSL)

Another Look At Model S Impact With Trailer (via KSL)

In a classic “man vs car vs computer log” scenario, Overton disputes the findings:

“Even during that 15, 20 second walk right here, we would have easily heard the impact of the vehicle into the back of the trailer.  They can tell me what they want to tell me with the logs, but it doesn’t change what we know happened here….They’re just assuming that I sat there and watched it happen, and I was OK with that.”

KSL did get in contact with Tesla, and the company issued a statement Tuesday night noting that the Summon feature is currently “in beta”, but not directly addressing this event.

“…It is paramount that our customers also exercise safe behavior when using our vehicles — including remaining alert and present when using the car’s autonomous features, which can significantly improve our customers’ overall safety as well as enhance their driving experience.”

Tesla’s statement also noted that the owner must agree to terms on their touch screen before the summon feature is enabled.

“This feature will park Model S while the driver is outside the vehicle. Please note that the vehicle may not detect certain obstacles, including those that are very narrow (e.g., bikes), lower than the fascia, or hanging from the ceiling. As such, Summon requires that you continually monitor your vehicle’s movement and surroundings while it is in progress and that you remain prepared to stop the vehicle at any time using your key fob or mobile app or by pressing any door handle. You must maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle when using this feature and should only use it on private property.”

The Model S owner and Tesla now seem to be at an impasse as to the cause of the crash, but KSL does note that Overton is currently driving a Tesla loaner as his car is being repaired, and would like Tesla to have a closer look at his situation so it doesn’t occur to anyone else again.

Assuming this was a summon mishap of some kind, earlier this year Tesla updated its summon-feature to make its operation safer, after an issue was pointed out by Consumer Reports. Previously, a single button push on the keyfob or smart phone could initiate the function.

The update saw smart phone operation require constant contact with the engage button to continue the summon operation (ala deadman’s switch), while the user could no longer Summon the car with the keyfob (only stop the operation) – that is unless they set it up themselves to override the safety protocols after proceeding through numerous warnings.

KSL, Hat tip to Dave S!

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120 responses to "Tesla Model S Owner Says His Car Crashed Itself, Tesla Says Otherwise – Video"

  1. kdawg says:

    It sounds like they need more than a “double-tap” to enable summon. I’m guessing he butt-summoned.

    1. VazzedUp says:

      Yup, pocket dialed.

      1. evcarnut says:

        This Can’t be good………….Pocket dialed or NOT !

        1. Seth says:

          It happens to VW drivers a lot where a car sits in the lot with all the windows down because the keyfob was pressed continously.

    2. sven says:

      It’ not just a problem with Summons. There is a Model X owner who “pocket opened” his falcon-wing doors the very first time he pulled his Model X out of his garage. His driver’s side falcon-winged door hit the garage door frame, bending and breading the falcon-wing door.

      “How it happened – The Short Version
      On the second day of owning my Tesla X, I was attempting to pull it out of my garage for the first time ever. I entered my Tesla X through the driver’s door, sat down and closed the door, pulled the car into drive and began to roll forward. As I moved forward about 3-5 feet on to the driveway I heard a crunching of glass. I stopped and backed up a few few feet, got out and saw that the driver’s side falcon wing door had attempted to open just as I had tried to roll through the narrow garage door opening. The door had caught the garage door frame and it was broken and bent. Your data logs report that the signal that instructed that door to open at the moment came from the key fob. That key fob was in my front left pocket and can only have been activated inadvertently by somehow being pinched in my pocket as I bent to sit in the driver’s seat. The whole incident from beginning to end was just several seconds.”

      https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/falcon-wings-open-from-key-fob-signal-while-driving.67429/

      1. Aaron says:

        Mmmm. Breaded Falcon wing doors.

        1. sven says:

          Actually, only one falcon door, and the repair estimate is a whopping $18,000. That’s one expensive meal!

          Here’s a post-accident video of a another Model X owner who drove into his garage with an open falcon-wing door.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82kv1yB7a8k

          https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/falcon-wings-open-from-key-fob-signal-while-driving.67429/page-2#post-1462840

      2. EV Driver says:

        Model X doors won’t open while the car is in drive, right? So the doors were attempting to open before the car was put into drive. Then when the car started moving, they stopped opening, but the car was still allowed to move forward while it knew the doors were open.

        This sounds less like an issue with the key fob and more like an issue with allowing the car to drive with doors open. I know some BMWs (and I’m sure plenty of other cars) will not drive if any door is open. I think that would be a good default setting for a car.

        1. tom911 says:

          I believe they will open when the car is in drive – Parade mode.

          1. EV Driver says:

            It seems like the easiest thing a car’s AI could do is to make sure all the doors are closed before moving unless you specifically ask it to ignore such a situation.

            I’m kind of shocked that a car company that puts so much effort into its doors would have overlooked such a simple safety feature.

            1. Anon says:

              It’s hard to safety-tape the entire world, when the driver is presumably involved with, and responsible for, their choices and actions while driving.

              I would rather Tesla devote their limited resources for feature enhancements, instead of babysitting darwin award wanna-bees.

              1. JWF says:

                Unfortunately, Darwin award wanna-be’s often injure (or worse) completely innocent bystanders. Incidents like these will be evaluated by Tesla for future safety options.

                Design engineers are often faced with very difficult choices. Not moving a car with an open door is desirable, but what if this door opening happens on an interstate?

                Keep in mind the careless driver and the 16-year-old learning to drive may make the same mistake, so look for Tesla to state the obvious (drivers must be alert to the situation) while trying to ensure their cars are a safe as possible.

          2. none says:

            The main reason that Tesla allows you to open the falcon doors while driving is to allow the car to fly.

            From the Model X manual, page 347….

            1. Rapidly accelerate vehicle to 100+ MPH.

            2. “Flap” the doors rapidly using the keyfob (works best while in your pocket and bouncing up and down on your seat like a very excited kid).

            3. Raise the spolier on the back of the car.

            4. Place your phone in “airplane mode”.

            5. Raise suspension to “high” to “push” the car off the ground.

            1. Cerio says:

              I KNEW IT!!!

        2. sven says:

          EV Driver asked:
          Model X doors won’t open while the car is in drive, right?

          Right and wrong. Apparently, when a Model X is in drive and not moving a key fob can open the FW doors, when in drive and moving (driving) a key fob can not open the FW door, but a passenger (ie child) in the second row can open the falcon wing doors by pressing the interior open/close button while the car is in drive and moving.

          https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/falcon-wings-open-from-key-fob-signal-while-driving.67429/page-3#post-1469830

          https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/falcon-wings-open-from-key-fob-signal-while-driving.67429/page-4#post-1515395

          However, the Model X will drive with an open falcon-wing door. I believe the reason why Tesla allows the Model X to drive with the falcon-winged doors open is so that the owner does not get stuck/stranded by a malfunctioning falcon-winged doors sensor that tells the car a falcon-wing door is open when it really is closed.

          The problem with the Model X key fob and “pocket opening” the falcon-wing doors while entering the car is a design flaw on the key fob. The falcon-wing door buttons on a Model X key fob are raised while all the other buttons on the key fob are recessed. Thus, the raised falcon-winged door buttons are easier to inadvertently press when the key fob is in your pocket, especially when entering and exiting the Model X.

    3. Jim Whitehead says:

      What is the key range? 100 feet? 200 feet?
      Possibly, the owner or friend played with the key from inside a restaurant, unaware that he was still controlling the car. (I hope this is was not fraud to collect insurance). Tesla could arguably claim its still the owners fault, as the key works from inside a restaurant. (There is also a tiny chance the key was hacked or cloned).

      Sometimes the range on devices is farther than we realize. I discovered that my wireless home phone works a block away!

      Tesla needs to release detailed minute-by-minute log, so that people can know who is actually at fault. Was the owner playing with the key far away, or was it hacked?

  2. Get Real says:

    Here come the haters who will once again prophesize how Tesla’s auto-pilot is a dangerous AI experiment that will doom its users to unnecessary risk and death.

    1. Jacked Beanstalk says:

      Here come the fanbois who shout “hater!” in response to any criticism of any aspect of Tesla’s autos.

      1. LOL says:

        Self-driving system sucks, more than a lot ! Once humanity allows some worthless pice of metal and wires to take command of his and lives if his dearest ones who is to be credited for such a huge achievement ? Albert Einstein used to say there are only two things infinite: the universe and human stupidity. Once and for all – anyone even attempting to impose that self-driving nonsense junk is to be headed away, for good. Take care !

        1. jelloslug says:

          Tell that to the wise human that rear ended me at a stop light because she was too busy playing with the radio to notice that it was the turning lane that would moving, not the lane she was in.

        2. Julien Gélinas says:

          LOL

        3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          I’m sure there are Amish and Mennonite communities who would be glad to take you in, as obviously you share a similar mindset. 😉

        4. TNT says:

          You know what is stupid? We allow 35-40,000 people/year die on our roads with “human systems”. I can’t wait until cars stop driving over cyclists & pedestrians too.

        5. Josh says:

          Too late.

          Cell phones have already taken over the minds of the humans that used to be paying attention and driving. Ironically the only options left are to un-invent cell phones or let computers drive the majority of cars.

      2. evcarnut says:

        Hater !! L M A 0….I love Tesla But.,I said it from the very Get Go that these cars are tOOOOOOOOO Complicated & I for ONE Don’t Like or Need that…A simpler functional EV would Cost Less & Do Everyone Just Fine ! All This Technology kick that everyone is on, has been taken toooooo far for most people’s liking ..I 4 1….Tesla is taking too much un-necessary risk..

    2. sven says:

      Not before the Tesla shills launch their preemptive attack on only anyone who might dare to criticize Tesla. Nice carpet bombing Get Real, but next time use more napalm.

      I’m pretty good at prophesying. When Tesla updated their smartphone app to make Summons safer, but failed to fix or recall the key fobs, I stated the following:

      “And the key fob is ‘as dangerous as before’ since there is no planned recall. Also, there is no mention of whether Tesla has any plans to update the design of the key fob for new cars so that eventually the new fobs will have similar ‘hold down’ functionality in the future.”

      http://insideevs.com/consumer-reports-finds-updated-tesla-summon-mode-more-safe-than-before/#comment-805154

      Bottom line, Tesla should redesign and recall its key fobs so that they have “hold down” functionality to prevent this from happening again in the future. Tesla should also stop blaming its “beta testing” customers when their beta hardware and software cause an accident.

      1. MDEV says:

        Yeah more thank 100K Teslas worldwide and for 1 (one) accident you should scrap the company.

        1. sven says:

          Scrap the company? I didn’t say that. Tesla should replace the key fobs that can’t be programmed to have “hold down” functionality with key fobs that have this fuctionality.

          1. Josh says:

            If it is technically feasible to add the deadman to a new version of keyfob (only Tesla would know), the summon feature should be disabled on all the current fobs and new fobs should be issued going forward.

            If you want to use summon from your fob, buy a new one. Or just use your phone.

        2. evcarnut says:

          There should be SAFETY Parameters in place that should prevent this once the car is in motion….ie..if I am moving my trunk will not remotely open ….Just like the Tesla guy with AUTO PILOT “on” sitting in the back seat taking a video..With no-one in the driver’s seat …YOU need more “SENSORS” in the rite places, Better Yet , Simplify these DAMN cars Elon ! We don’t need all that Extra Complicated SH!T That Cost more $$$$ and.,Causes MORE Problems for what???I WISH SOMEONE OUT THERE WOULD BUILD A SIMPLE EV….

        3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          I’m with sven on this one. This is a problem which was pointed out to Tesla by Consumer Reports, but altho Tesla did make a change to functionality, they didn’t actually fix the problem.

          As with the “bricking” of Tesla Roadsters back in the day, Tesla needs to stop pretending the problem isn’t real, and actually address it. Refusing to do so will only hurt Tesla’s image, which is exactly what happened with the bricking problem.

          And nowhere did sven suggest or imply in his post that Tesla should be driven out of business. sven has repeatedly insinuated that Tesla is committing fraud in its financial statements, and has presented half-truths and fact-twisting as “evidence” for that, but he hasn’t actually gone so far as to say that Tesla shouldn’t be in business.

          1. sven says:

            For the record, I never insinuated that Tesla is committing fraud in its financial statements. But I say they were unprofitable, which is a fact.

      2. Jim Whitehead says:

        Good point. Letting kids play with Tesla fobs is like letting kids play with loaded guns.

        This video shows a little kid playing with the key fob and almost getting run over. http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–bL_IpUWd–/c_scale,f_auto,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/hlqvoipu9fq6tuconmxg.gif

        1. EV Driver says:

          Agreed, kids shouldn’t be playing with any car controls.

          But that is not what that video clip shows. The whole video can be found here:

      3. Get Real says:

        Pathetic response sven.

        Carpet bombing is what you do on virtually every Tesla thread with your multiple, whiney posts and heavily cherry-picked FUD.

        You should get a life and get out more!

        1. sven says:

          What, no comment on my amazing ability to prophesize that Tesla choosing not to recall and replace its key fobs would lead to mishaps? Talk about cherry picking!

          When it comes to carpet bombing, you’re Top Gun.

          1. ModernMarvelFan says:

            Don’t worry, Tesla fan boys can’t handle facts when they are negatively reflected on Tesla…

        2. Anon says:

          I’ve decided he’s the only one that sees Tesla and Elon for what they truely are– evil demons ploting the deaths of wonderful magical rainbow hydrogen and biofuels.

          Thank you for saving us, and showing us the error of our blind ways. 😉

          Not.

    3. Someone out there says:

      Well there is certainly merit to that idea. Experimenting on your paying customers could turn out very ugly if you make a serious error. That is why every other car manufacturer test their autopilot software thoroughly on dedicated testing grounds instead of on their customers.

  3. EV Driver says:

    Definitely sounds like he accidentally initiated summon after exiting the car. I wonder how many other people have similarly initiated summon without realizing it.

    I imagine he will disable summon mode on his car when he gets it back from repairs.

    1. EV Driver says:

      Also, is it still possible to use the key fob to initiate summon? I thought they require you to use the app now.

      1. sven says:

        Yes, you can still use key to Summon, but you now have to set it up after Tesla changed the default to not allow Summon with key fob.

        http://insideevs.com/consumer-reports-finds-updated-tesla-summon-mode-more-safe-than-before/

  4. Jake Brake says:

    One of the downsides of fast and loose silicon valley engineering. Software engineers need to realize this is a dangerous vehicle, not a bug that can get patched later.

    1. MJP462 says:

      Ha! Good one!

    2. Sammy says:

      Haha. Funny!!!

    3. pjwood1 says:

      Wait, the airbag didn’t deploy. So, AP is still safer.

    4. evcarnut says:

      Great Point & So true …This isn’t funny stuff … human lives lifes are at stake here . Things gotta be Right !…

  5. Jacked Beanstalk says:

    Summon isn’t ready for prime time. As the established automakers all understand, any feature that isn’t idiot-proof will result in disaster. A self driving car that requires constant supervision is a really bad idea.

    1. VazzedUp says:

      Also seems like the sensors need to be improved to ensure full coverage for potential obstacles.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Indeed. Videos show the Model S’s forward radar fails to detect a bicycle to the side but still in front of the car, a large plush toy on the ground directly in front of the car, and this report shows it fails to detect something up at windshield level.

        The sensors need to be expanded to be able to detect objects near the car that are outside the cone of detection for the front-facing radar. Additional sensors will of course make the sensor suite more expensive, but this is necessary.

    2. Anon says:

      And do you honestly believe you can make something idiot proof????

      I don’t think you actually grasp how creative idiots can be…

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Jacked Beanstalk said:

      “…any feature that isn’t idiot-proof will result in disaster.”

      Idiot-proofing is a noble ideal, but not actually achievable in real life. Tesla does need to make real efforts to reduce the chances of this happening accidentally, but the only way to eliminate the possibility entirely is to eliminate the feature.

      “Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently capable fool.” — Murphy’s Laws

  6. Tummy says:

    I thought they added a dead man switch so you have to keep the button pressed to summon the car? Maybe he butt dialed the summon feature.

    1. sven says:

      No. Tesla put the dead man switch only on the smartphone app. Tesla did not update its key fobs to have “hold down” functionality because the hardware wouldn’t allow it. Tesla did make the default to no key fob summons, and now requires owners to set up key fob summons on the car’s center console screen and navigate past warning screens.

      From a previous InsideEVs article:
      “Users can no longer Summon the car with the key fob unless they set it up themselves after proceeding through numerous warnings. This is because the software update cannot change the fob to the similar “hold down” functionality.”

      http://insideevs.com/consumer-reports-finds-updated-tesla-summon-mode-more-safe-than-before/

  7. MikeM says:

    I have to say; over the last decade the number of times my (non Tesla) vehicles have self-locked/unlocked or honked dementedly just from my key fob BEING in my pocket is way beyond counting. The honking feature requires multiple or long button presses.

    One would have to be as dumb as a door-post not to design in strong safeguards against that “feature” in a car which can remote/self start and drive.

    O.K. – So me: Fanboi or hater? You decide! (Clue: I put down my $1k for M3 on day 1)

    1. vdiv says:

      A fanboi in the making 😉

  8. Bonaire says:

    Autopilot now gives owners an excuse for their problems. However, insurance companies will not “go their way”. Drivers are always 100% responsible for their actions – or the actions of the computers they own which drives the car for them.

    1. Bonaire says:

      So, effectively, during summon, it doesn’t seem to do the avoidant braking or avoidant maneuvering to not run into a truck.

      1. Trollnonymous says:

        What good is the feature if it doesn’t do that?

        Change the name from “Summon Feature” to “Auto Destruct”…….lol

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        The Model S will certainly brake to avoid collision with anything its sensor suite detects while using the Summon feature. You can see that happening in this video:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cwr6zh2450w

        (And thanks to “EV Driver” for posting that above!)

        The problem here seems to be that the obstacle was well above the cone of detection for the car’s front-facing radar, which I think is mounted behind the faux grille.

        The cars need some additional short-range sensors to detect things close to the car which are outside the cone of detection for the front-facing radar.

        1. Spider-Dan says:

          So then, to summarize: effectively, during summon, it doesn’t seem to do the avoidant braking or avoidant maneuvering to not run into a truck.

    2. Dan says:

      This is why I prefer the approach Google is taking. Tesla has been shipping “beta” software that gives users (drivers) the false sense that the car is actually in control. Either the human should be in control (a la cruise control) or the car should be completely in control. Any intermediate system that gives the driver a false belief that they can look away is a non-starter in my books.

      The Tesla approach seems to be building up valuable data that should help to tune a future system that I would choose to use – data that they are getting for free from overeager fanbois, some of whom may or may not make it – instead of paying a fleet of test cars.

      1. EV Drive says:

        It is ironic that you chose Google as an example as they are arguably the reason that no one understands what software labeled as “beta” means anymore. They abused that term for so many years with all their software products that now the public doesn’t understand what beta means anymore.

        Tesla is taking an iterative approach. Google is not. We will never know which was the better approach until Google actually ships a working product, but history favors the iterative approach.

        1. Dan says:

          Iterative approaches have their time and place. I wouldn’t design Apollo 11 iteratively, for example, unless you have a high tolerance for loss of life! You wouldn’t design a nuclear reactor iteratively after deploying it near a major city either!!

          Google may have taken a very different approach to their software, where beta testing a free product on your user base doesn’t have negative consequences, but cars are different. Google’s approach is a lot more prudent.

          1. EV Driver says:

            The space program is the best example of an iterative approach, but not exactly a good comparison since they don’t mass-produce rockets, yet.

            And you know, Tesla’s CEO does have a successful rocket company.

            1. Four Electrics says:

              Space programs can only be iterable when the launch vehicles aren’t reusable. Once you have a reusable vehicle, you need to get it right the first time. Witness the Space Shuttle–a total disaster.

            2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

              Yes, the NASA space program was highly iterative, from Mercury to Gemini and through Apollo. The program used unmanned vehicles followed by chimpanzee “test pilots” before risking the lives of men in them.

              1. Dan says:

                Sorry, but nobody has done chimp launches since the 60s. If you’re going to build for a modern rocket launch, even after you’re done testing, you often have to build multiple copies of your little component, some of which NASA will destroy as part of its testing.

            3. Dan says:

              I don’t think we are using the same definition of “iterative”. I’m using it in the project management sense of the word where a product has multiple releases where the system is not entirely functional in the first release. The space program cannot do that, ever. No component goes into a live launch in “beta” mode, and most components have multiple degrees of redundancy.

      2. pjwood1 says:

        They called them “idiot lights” decades ago. That didn’t work, either. You’re basically saying cruise control should never have happened.

        If you used Autopilot, and knew its limits, my guess somebody would have to pry it away from you. On TMC, a recent poll showed over 60% use the feature every day. I can see it quickly becoming a “must have”, for drivers facing stop & go.

        The trailer, above, had its leading end facing the Tesla. Not a legal tail-gate. Summon probably doesn’t use the mirror sensor, where in traffic such an illegal ~20′ over-hang would likely trigger AP to stay back. I would never trust AP to spot something long off the back of a truck, maybe with a red flag, any more than I trust cruise control to steer my car.

  9. Mister G says:

    I want my model 3 with auto pilot and a joystick.

  10. Trollnonymous says:

    Tesla’s fault.
    Why didn’t the call ‘Sense” the large object in front of it?

    Answer?
    Because they think the car will impact only things that are ~3 feet tall.

    1. Trollnonymous says:

      Car not Call

  11. MDEV says:

    How it can be, I only use the key, I found it safer, I have to keep pushed like few seconds until the mark lights flashing and then push the front or trunk to make the car move. I don’t think is possible as accidentally butt summon function activation.

    1. sven says:

      Did you have a new Model S made after the Consumer Reports story on the Summons failure? If yes, then Tesla upgraded the key fob on newly manufactured cars, but didn’t recall the key fobs on older Model S that can’t have “hold down” functionality.

      1. Josh says:

        I didn’t hear that there was a new version of the fob compatible with deadman operation.

        If that is true, my statement above should be modified. Tesla should kill summon ability from all old fobs. And require the purchase of new fobs for owners that want fob summon functionality. Or just use your phone.

  12. sven says:

    Off topic: (@1:55 in the video)
    I’ve never seen a replacement nosecone like that with the top of the nose cone having the new Tesla grill and the lower nosecone having an real-looking/actual wire grill.

    1. vdiv says:

      What is a no secone? It sounds Italian 😉

  13. Nix says:

    OMG! What a horrible problem! Everybody is going to die! There is no possible way for this horrible problem to be fixed!

    Except of course simply disabling a feature you have to willfully decide to enable in the first place.

    Done.

  14. G2 says:

    The history of ‘Runaway Car’ scams continues to be written.

    1. mxs says:

      Or, could it be possible that it’s rather true that many of the autonomous features in Tesla’s cars are not as robust as Tesla and their fans believe … dismissing everyone else who doesn’t have them in their cars?

      Is there a chance of that, what do you think?

  15. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Obviously Tesla needs to change the procedure for using the fob to activate Summon, to eliminate as far as is practical the chance that Summon will be activated accidentally. Applying Occam’s Razor, that is most likely what happened here, despite the driver’s protestations.

    Hafta agree with Consumer Reports on this one: Tesla needs to change the operation of the Summon feature so that you must continuously hold down the button on the fob for the car to move. And this incident shows just why Tesla needs to make that change. It’s not clear to me whether or not that can be done with an OTA software fix. Tesla declined to do that when they responded to Consumer Reports’ suggestions, so apparently it’s not something that they can easily accomplish. I hope Tesla won’t have to replace every existing Model S and Model X fob with a new one to fix this problem.

  16. mxs says:

    What’s the big deal … he summoned his car to the back of a trailer. How is this the car’s fault???

    1. sven says:

      How do we know that the trailer didn’t have a Summons feature which failed?

  17. Koenigsegg says:

    Wouldn’t have happened to a normal Tesla that doesn’t have autopilot or summon.

    Those features just make absolutely no sense whatsoever and I’m a logical thinker.

    Literally boggles my mind why a car should have functional capabilities like that over a human automaton.

    “Summon my Tesla 20 feet” Because I’m too lazy to use my fully functioning legs to simply walk over to it and get in like every single human being has always done with their vehicle. Yawn.

    1. John in AA says:

      I don’t use it, and have it disabled in my vehicle to avoid just such incidents as the article is about. However, I have friends who have to park in spots too narrow to allow them to easily exit their vehicles, who would really love to have Summon to allow them to exit, then pull into their spot. It’s not beyond the realm of imagination that when all vehicles have similar capabilities, all parking spots will get narrower.

      Do not fall into the trap of conflating “it’s not useful for me” with “it’s not useful”.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Well said on every point, John.

        Of all the discussion and videos I’ve seen about Summon mode, pulling the car into and out of a tight parking spot is the only one which seems to me to have any practical value. The other uses seem to me to be either ill-advised — such as using it to pull the car into or out of your garage — or else just another “Gee whiz, everybody look at what my car can do!” feature.

      2. vdiv says:

        So one is going to stand in the freezing rain or baking sun while fiddling with their key fob/phone and waiting for their car to slowly craw into a spot? It does not seem that practical until the car can do that entirely on its own.

        1. John in AA says:

          It turns out there are parking spots that exist in environments that do not have freezing rain or baking sun. For example, in a parking structure. Or when the weather is pleasant. Perhaps you should consider moving? Or buying an umbrella?

  18. Big Solar says:

    Ive been worried about these things since cruise control was invented.

  19. Bill Howland says:

    I’m in favor of a very very slow pace towards Autonomous Vehicles, which certain manufacturers are hell-bent on supplying.

    Besides military application, I’m sure the Insurance companies will insist on it since they’ll of course say that actually driving a car yourself is much too unsafe and causes too much property damage.

    Car owners will be allowed to ‘Purchase Outright’ vehicles they are no longer permitted to drive, of course.

    Income going way down in the states amoungst younger people, such as the FED’s recent report that over half of 25 year olds cannot lead an independent exisitance and must live in their childhood bedrooms? And they could never afford a new car? No problem!

    They’ll be able to get an autonomous GM LYFT, for a big fee, of course.

  20. Omar Sultan says:

    Here are the details from from the logs that Tesla provided (courtesy of The Verge)–no butt summons or defective fob (sorry Sven) involved:

    “The vehicle logs confirm that the automatic Summon feature was initiated by a double-press of the gear selector stalk button, shifting from Drive to Park and requesting Summon activation. The driver was alerted of the Summon activation with an audible chime and a pop-up message on the center touchscreen display. At this time, the driver had the opportunity to cancel the action by pressing CANCEL on the center touchscreen display; however, the CANCEL button was not clicked by the driver. In the next second, the brake pedal was released and two seconds later, the driver exited the vehicle. Three seconds after that, the driver’s door was closed, and another three seconds later, Summon activated pursuant to the driver’s double-press activation request. Approximately five minutes, sixteen seconds after Summon activated, the vehicle’s driver’s-side front door was opened again. “

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      This summary from Tesla seems to strongly imply the “accident” was deliberate on the part of the driver, presumably for insurance fraud.

      However, we weren’t there, and I suggest that there may be another scenario, altho an unlikely one. A double tap on the stalk could have been accidental, and the driver could have been distracted by talking with someone (outside the car or on his cell phone) while the chime and warning message was displayed, so didn’t notice them as he was in the process of getting out of the car. The fact that this was followed only three seconds later by a double-press activation (presumably on the car’s fob?) does again suggest intentional action, but I think it’s still at least possible this was a case of the driver slipping the fob into his pocket and accidentally pushing the button while doing so. Even pushing it twice certainly isn’t beyond the realm of possibility, especially if what was pushing the button wasn’t his finger, but (for example) a crease in his pants which tightened as he took a step.

      Again, an unlikely scenario, but as they say: The probability of even the most unlikely occurrence approaches unity (100%), given enough repetitions and enough time.

      More to the point, in the American judicial system, we should always assume someone is innocent until proven guilty. So I think it best to use some skepticism about this being a deliberate act.

    2. sven says:

      Thanks for the info Omar. I didn’t know that Summons could be activated from the car’s gear selector stalk button, as opposed to the smartphone app or key fob. But I can’t figure out why Tesla would put this feature on the gear stalk selector button, especially since there appears to be no “hold down” functionality as Tesla has put functionality into the smartphone app as a safety precaution after the Consumer Reports article. So, if I’m reading this right, double pressing the gear stalk selector button acts just like a key fob Summons request and has no “hold down’ functionality or “dead man” switch.

      Perhaps Tesla should consider changing the CANCEL button on the center screen after a gear-selector-stalk-button Summons request is made, to a CONFIRM button to add an extra layer of safety.

      http://www.theverge.com/2016/5/11/11658226/tesla-model-s-summon-autopilot-crash-letter

      1. Barbar says:

        ^^ this!

        Tesla says “the driver had the opportunity to cancel the action by pressing CANCEL on the center touchscreen display; however, the CANCEL button was not clicked by the driver“, but this is really no excuse for their unsafe software design.

        User-friendly computer interfaces should prompt the operator to CANCEL or CONFIRM any known risky command, e.g. ‘format main harddrive, erasing all data’.

        The prompt then remains on-screen until either option is, after reconsideration, definitively selected. In default of further input it does not just time-out and then proceed with the more perilous course of action anyhow, which is what Tesla’s software seems to have done in this case.

        IMHO, regardless of any holes in the story of this driver, the serious HMI philosophy issue here regarding safety needs urgent attention, before a human casualty and whopping lawsuit actually happens. Tesla should be delighted to emerge from this learning experience relatively unscathed at only the cost of physically patching up this guy’s car and providing a notified safety software patch for all having this ‘feature’.

    3. sven says:

      Omar,

      I’ve seen s Summoned car come to a complete stop when hitting the one inch lip at the garage entrance and then apparently disengage. Would it be possible for Summons to up against a tiny obstacle (stick or rock) in the road where the Tesla was parked and not move immediately, but then overcome the obstacle after 20 seconds (owner’s time estimate)? In other words, how long (maximum time) before Summons disengages after encountering a obstacle at the very start of Summons?

    4. pjwood1 says:

      That single stalk button operates three things, then. Park, unlock and summon. Good to know. Real efficient. Minimalist.

    5. arne-nl says:

      Reading it correctly, the only thing the driver did was pressing the gear selector stalk twice. The rest is standard procedure: keep your foot on the brake, put the car in P, release the brake and exit the vehicle.

      My only logical explanation is he inadvertently pressed the gear selector stalk twice and was to distracted (talking on the phone? Listening to music with earbuds?) to see/hear the chime and message. Or was there anything else that he had to do to activate summon?

  21. Matthew says:


    Shouldn’t the collision avoidance system have prevented it from hitting the truck anyway?

    1. ffbj says:

      The bed of the truck is very high, so no sensor would detect it. It also extends quite a ways from the truck. Also the material is on some sort of platform. One of those corner cases that needs to be dealt with. They need another sensor for one.

      1. vdiv says:

        The front-facing camera(s), perhaps?

    2. vdiv says:

      That’s just a collision avoidance, not a beheading avoidance 😉

  22. Omar Sultan says:

    The sensors are designed to pick ups things a street/bumper level, but if you look at the pics, there is still a few feet between the front of the car and the landing gear, which is the first thing the sensors might conceivably see. Even then, it depends on how you have summons configured. On our MX, the summons distance is set to 9″ because the vehicle is a tight fit in the garage.

  23. ffbj says:

    Two words, or is it one word hyphenated?
    Wheel-Chocks, with a Tesla logo of course.
    It’s a branding thing.

  24. James says:

    Oh the teething problems with autonomous auto features begins!

    Buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!

    One thing engineers learn about people. We humans do the darndest things. People are already bashing their falcon wing doors into garage door frames – it’s those absolutely unexpected human things that no computer can embrace.

  25. James says:

    My offhand impression is – This guy met a new friend and bragged up his Tesla…cool,… But then he wanted to demonstrate the Summon feature, but neither he nor the Tesla bargained for that large overhang of the trailer. I’d bet the Tesla’s sensors saw the part of the trailer that was deeply inset, not the overhang. BAM!

    Play the blame game dude, but Tesla will take note and try to de-dumb the system while the owner needs to buck up and take some responsibility.

  26. Foo says:

    Can’t they make the summon feature more explicit to use?

    For example, type a pin, just not “accidentally” press a button. Or, activate it only through voice control.

    Also, at the very least, maybe the car should emit a warning honk before it starts moving, and flash the lights while it is moving. Then, an accidental summon would be harder to miss.

  27. ModernMarvelFan says:

    I think the owner just proved to Tesla that when you make something idiot proof, someone will make a better idiot.

    Either way, Tesla should design things that would work for someone with far less intelligence than 80% of the population.

    That is what majority of the automakers try to do. Even then, things still get bad sometimes.

    Maybe Tesla should just make the feature hard to activate and assume the worst case.

    It is going to be interesting for the next few years with all the “auto” features that are coming out.

  28. Get Real says:

    Well, I guess sven and others with their WAG assumptions can stand corrected now.

    Obviously this was nothing more then user error at best.

    It is ridiculous to expect Tesla to try and anticipate every possible scenario and then spend untold resources trying to idiot-proof.

    This is what the laggard OEMs have been doing for decades and the lack of real progress is the result.

    I much prefer Tesla’s approach to get it out there and as these outlier cases pop up to redesign/update in the future to minimize the outliers while keeping in mind that there will always be outliers.

    Just like there will always be people who persevere about every little thing.

  29. Jeffrey Songster says:

    This is pretty obviously a problem of sensor blindness to overhanging items. Summoning a vehicle without being nearby seems super stupid. Should be interesting to see who wins the first darwin award for working with autopilot users.

  30. Dave S. says:

    Seems likely that he made a mistake and is trying to blame Tesla. I would have liked to watch the car slowly crawl under the truck.

  31. Doug Bostrom says:

    Leaving aside the issue at hand, the Summon feature sounds singularly useless.

  32. Doug Bostrom says:

    That is to say, given that the car must be watched like a toddler near a swimming pool. No savings of time, attention if done by the book.

    1. arne-nl says:

      That is to say, if you ignore the useful feature of being able to park the car in spots that are so tight, you wouldn’t be able to exit your vehicle afterwards.

      Or the inverse, you parked your car, to find another car parked next to you so tightly, that you can’t enter the car.

  33. JR says:

    It might have been this: guy wants to show off.. ahem.. demo summons feature (I would). Sets it up before leaving the car so it works when he comes out. Pushes the button blindly – perhaps accidentally – and off goes the car crashing into a structure that is very much is “hanging” from the car’s perspective. The car can’t detect that sort of object.

    Some folks might need a confirmation like a voice saying “summons initiated” out of the key fob or a dedicated “your car is moving!” LED indicator. Maybe the key fob needs to be within x distance from the car or have an “are you sure?” confirmation from the car. All things to ruin the experience for the majority but save us from errors, either from the car or our own.

  34. kubel says:

    1) Does / should the car have the capability to sense obstacles and stop the car?

    2) If so, why didn’t it in this case?

    The car crashed itself. As much as we want to blame user error for this, the car didn’t detect an obstacle and failed to avoid a collision at incredibly slow speeds.

    You can point to operator error, but I think Tesla should:

    1) Improve sensing (it didn’t see a semi trailer for pete’s sake).

    2) Make safety improvements to prevent inadvertent butt dialing. It sounds like they already did this and the owner may have overridden this.

    I’m not a Tesla hater, and I understand this is a beta feature, but let’s be honest with ourselves. *It failed to avoid a collision with a semi trailer*.

    More work is needed.

    1. arne-nl says:

      That the car has limitations in case of overhang, is known and was communicated in advance by Tesla. We all know you can’t run your car into a brick wall @100 km/h because “it has airbags”. All technology has its limitations and the question is whether the driver could be reasonably expected to know these.

      1. Foo says:

        Then they probably should not have enabled the feature until the car *can* definitely see when a freakin’ truck is in its way.

        It seems a bit short-sighted (pun intended) to have enabled the feature with so many severe remaining deficiencies.

  35. Battery Bro says:

    From this part: [it will hit narrow objects e.g., bikes]…[and to prevent this you must] remain prepared to stop the vehicle at any time using your key fob or mobile app or by pressing any door handle.

    And an accident will definitely happen under the current conditions. Whether it has already happened or will take years is just as likely, until you factor in advancement and then room for errors is greatest now.

    I’m not picking sides in this case, however under the current conditions there is certainly room for error (eg. a small object like a bike being hit).

    That is because there is a chance a human seeing something and stopping with their feet or arms is more reflexive eg. a human-car interface as it currently stands.

    When one has a mostly automated vehicle they give up control and a lag occurs in responsiveness.

    It is just set up to fail as it is, either that or someone has seen such and is looking to exploit it.