During a conference call with reporters this past Sunday, Elon Musk expanded a bit on how the new Summon mode included in the Version 7.1 software might make cross country autonomous driving possible. Musk called the current application, which allows the car to drive itself forward or back a total of 39 feet, “just a baby step.”
That’s when Musk uttered the words that have ignited the blogosphere the past few days. “Ultimately you’ll be able to summon your car anywhere … your car can get to you. I think that within two years, you’ll be able to summon your car from across the country. It will meet you wherever your phone is … and it will just automatically charge itself along the entire journey.”
Most people haven’t picked up on the significance of that last phrase. How, exactly, will the car charge itself along the way? Elon said that “some version” of the snake like charging robot first shown last summer would be necessary. The “snake charmer” system got a lot of snickers at the time. Even Musk referred to it during the conference call as “sort of fascinating in its creepiness.”
Musk told reporters that “some version” of it would be incorporated into Tesla’s Supercharger locations to start. His predictions “might be slightly optimistic” Musk told the reporters, but he insisted that “in that time frame of 24 to 36 months, [a Tesla] will be able to drive on virtually all roads at a safety level significantly better than human.”
He did say that fully autonomous driving would need more than a software update to existing Model X and Model S cars. “We do need more sensors than the car currently has to achieve that goal. You need a lot of redundancy … more cameras, more radars, redundant power buses … so that any system can fail in the car and it doesn’t need to backup to a driver.”
Listen to Elon Musk’s press call regarding Version 7.1
While we are on the subject of the new Summon feature, lots of owners have posted videos of how the Tesla ‘summing’ feature works. Here is Tesla’s official video, filmed in what has to be the world’s neatest and cleanest garage.