Originally published on CleanTechnica.
A Utah man’s parked Tesla Model S recently went “rogue” and somehow crashed itself into the back of a parked truck, according to reports.
The owner of the Model S involved has claimed that, after parking the car, standing outside for a 30-second or minute-long conversation, and then heading into a store for a couple of minutes, he returned to find that his Model S had unparked itself and crashed into the back of the truck parked in front of it.
The man in question, Jared Overton, commented in an interview with KSL News: “I think it behooves them to figure out what happened, what happened with the vehicle, address it. Just fix it.”
Unsurprisingly, Tesla disputes all of this. And has, after a review of the car’s logs, placed blame on the owner and his “inattentive” use of the car’s beta Summon feature.
The company apparently sent a letter (signed by a regional service manager) that stated: “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 states that the Summon feature “was initiated by a double-press of the gear selector stalk button, shifting from Drive to Park and requesting Summon activation.” The Summon feature was, according to Tesla, initiated 3 seconds after the door closed.
Teslarati provides more:
Overton says he put the vehicle in park. He has no recollection of initiating the Summon feature. He says the witness and he were talking about the car for 30 seconds to a full minute before they both went into the store. When he came out a few minutes later, his Tesla had impaled itself on the back end of the truck parked in front of it.
“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,” Overton said. “They can tell me what they want to tell me with the logs, but it doesn’t change what we know happened here.”
Even if he accidentally initiated the Summon feature, the vehicle should have started to park itself while he was still standing next to it, showing it off to the worker, he says. “They’re just assuming that I sat there and watched it happen, and I was OK with that,” Overton said.
Tesla issued a public statement on the matter as well:
Safety is a top priority at Tesla, and we remain committed to ensuring our cars are among the absolute safest vehicles on today’s roads. 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.
…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.
Sensible requirements considering how new the technology is. Though, the actual circumstances in this case are a bit cloudy. Still, exercising great caution with a new technology would always seem prudent.
A commentator on the Tesla Motors Club forum by the name of “sorka” related a relevant story:
Tesla has even said what I suspect and that is the driver hit the park button twice. I’ve done this a half dozen times to get out and find that my MS is moving forward. It hasn’t hit anything of course but there have been a few concerning moments.
When I pick up my daughter at school, I stop and press the park button once and then a second time to extend the door handles. I then get out to go around to the other side of the car to help her get in and load her 40 lb scoliosis backpack. If she doesn’t open the door soon enough while I’m coming to the other side, the car starts moving forward. It’s how the feature is designed. The only indication is the emergency flashers and of course the screen shows summon in activation mode, but if you’re getting out quickly to help someone load stuff up after opening up the door handles with the second park press, you’re in for a shock the first few times.
Image Credit: Screen Capture/KSL News