Tesla CEO Elon Musk explains Enhanced Summon’s development challenges

(Photo: Hector Perez/YouTube)

A third updated version of Tesla’s Enhanced Summon is set to be released to Early Access Program participants this week, according to CEO Elon Musk. The feature comprises a set of capabilities that allow drivers to operate their all-electric cars through the Tesla mobile app, specifically by having them autonomously travel to their location.

One of the most novel and entertaining functions in Enhanced Summon is navigation through parking lots. However, the first two iterations of the program have been fairly slow and agnostic about directional indicators on the ground, as seen in several demo videos. The next update may improve on that awareness, though. Musk recently revealed some behind-the-scenes challenges the software team at Tesla has experienced while fine-tuning the self-driving feature, specifically in terms of curbs and their coloring.

“Yeah, we’ve been working on curbs a *lot*. Concrete seams too. So glamorous,” he tweeted in response to an update request for Enhanced Summon. When asked what the most difficult part about concrete was, Musk replied, “Excessive shades of grey.” The CEO also jokingly noted that curbs with high contrast were his ‘favorite’.

The final release of Enhanced Summon was said to be near-ready in May with Musk personally testing it himself, but there has been a continued delay in making the feature available to all Tesla customers whose vehicles have the appropriate hardware. This latest discussion on the programming involved may provide some insight on its development timeline as well as nod towards some of the challenges that will come with Tesla’s Robotaxi plans. Riders will need to hail their Tesla taxis from a variety of locations, naturally, so Enhanced Summon is serving a dual purpose of sorts in gathering data about picking up passengers.

Other ambitious plans for Enhanced Summon include finding legal parking spaces as well as leaving them, or more specifically, a Tesla “should be able to drive around a parking lot, find an empty spot, read signs to confirm it’s valid & park,” as previously detailed by Musk. Early Access Program participants have already tested out the feature’s current parking lot behavior, one video notably pitting a self-driving Tesla against a human driver in an awkward, start-stop showdown. While impressive, the episode demonstrated that Enhanced Summon’s obstacle detection and response still had plenty of improvements to be made.

Tesla’s Enhanced Summon, together with the company’s Navigate on Autopilot with unconfirmed lane changes, is part of the company’s Full Self-Driving suite, which Musk expects to be “feature complete” by the end of the year. Rollouts of these smaller features in the meantime appear to be a clever way to merge entertainment with the development of much more complex future capabilities as well as provide a taste of what’s to come.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk explains Enhanced Summon’s development challenges
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