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Tesla’s Autopilot cameras are paving the way for Elon Musk’s ‘Smart Summon’ concept

[Credit: Marc Benton/YouTube]

With the rollout of Software V9, Tesla has started utilizing its electric cars’ suite of Autopilot cameras to augment existing features. This was showcased recently in a video depicting V9’s blind spot warning system, which now uses Tesla’s 360° cameras to detect other vehicles on the road. If Elon Musk’s recent announcement on Twitter is any indication, though, it appears that Tesla’s Autopilot cameras would soon be used to improve yet another noteworthy feature — Summon.

In a recent post on Twitter, Elon Musk remarked that Tesla’s New Summon would utilize Autopilot cameras. This is a departure from the company’s present system for the feature. As noted in the Model 3’s Owner’s Manual, Summon currently utilizes data from the vehicles’ ultrasonic sensors to maneuver itself in and out of parking spaces. The feature was initially exclusive to the Model S and X during the first months of the Model 3’s production, though the electric sedan eventually received Summon during the rollout of the electric car maker’s v8.1(2018.24.1) firmware.

Summon is a notable convenience feature of Tesla’s electric cars, being the subject of numerous lighthearted videos from enthusiasts and auto journalists alike. During the second season of The Grand Tour, for one, veteran auto reviewer Jeremy Clarkson took a liking to the feature, at one point even using Summon to confine a group of lawyers inside a Tesla Model X P100D. Ultimately, it could be said that Summon is the only real “full self-driving” feature available in Tesla’s vehicles today, considering that it does allow the company’s electric cars to move on their own, limited range and speed notwithstanding.

While Summon is already pretty useful in its present iteration, it remains but the tip of the iceberg for Elon Musk’s vision for the feature. Back in October 2016, Musk shared his thoughts about Summon on Twitter, stating that improvements down the line would allow vehicles to be summoned over long distances. Musk even noted that Tesla owners should be able to Summon their cars from across the country at some point in the future. In such a scenario, the electric car would autonomously take an inter-state trip, charging itself on Superchargers along the way.

Inasmuch as this scenario is nothing short of incredible, it would likely take a few more years before self-driving cars are allowed on public roads. Apart from this, Tesla would also need to develop and refine its Full Self-Driving suite, which remains under development. With this in mind, it seems safe to assume that it would be quite some time before Tesla owners are able to Summon their vehicles over long distances.

This does not mean that Summon would remain limited, though. As Tesla improves its Autopilot systems and as the company continues to develop its Full Self-Driving suite, features such as Smart Summon are in the pipeline. Smart Summon, which is referenced by the company on the official webpage of its Autopilot and FSD suite, would allow vehicles to navigate more complex environments, such as pulling in and out of a parking space while maneuvering around objects along the way.

It remains to be seen if New Summon, which was referenced by Elon Musk in his latest tweet, would introduce Smart Summon’s features. That said, using Autopilot’s 360° cameras for the convenience feature definitely seems like a vast improvement over Summon’s current capabilities. 

Tesla’s Autopilot cameras are paving the way for Elon Musk’s ‘Smart Summon’ concept
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