With Summon, your Tesla gets a virtual valet

A free software update has taught Tesla's Model S to autonomously park itself and then return, summoned from the keyfob like a virtual valet. Dubbed "Summon", the new ability is part of Tesla Version 7.1, the latest iteration of the electric car's software which has been released as an over-the-air update this weekend.

With Summon, both the Model S and Model X will be able to be dispatched from your front door to head over to the garage and park itself, before powering down. If there's an automatic garage door with HomeLink support, the Tesla can open and close that itself, too, as shown in the video above by Ricco831.

On the flip side, once you need the car again, it can be called back using a button on the keyfob as shown in the below video by Mark Schey.

Right now, the only part missing is actually plugging the EV in to charge, though Tesla is working on a solution there. Unlike rivals who are looking to wireless charging pads – on top of which a compatible car would merely need to park – Elon Musk has his engineers developing a "solid metal snake" which would reach out and plug into the charging port.

Tesla is billing Summon as ideal for parking in narrow spots, where door dings and other accidents could occur. The technology uses the same cameras and sensors integrated around the car as Autopilot.

Eventually, the company says, "your Tesla will be able to drive anywhere across the country to meet you, charging itself along the way. It will synch with your calendar to know exactly when to arrive."

Indeed Musk tweeted that in around two years, Summon should be capable of driving across any connected landmass where it doesn't have to negotiate borders.

However we may have to wait a while for that degree of complexity, and indeed Tesla is requesting that, while Summon is in beta, it only be used on private property. It's unclear when that beta might end, or indeed what the legal ramifications might be of owners using the feature on public highways.

The new firmware – which is delivered wirelessly to the car, courtesy of its integrated cellular radio – also includes updates to Tesla's Autopilot system for highway lane-keeping and traffic pacing.

As a result, the maximum speed at which Autopilot will operate has been capped at 5 mph above the posted speed limit for the road, assuming it's a residential road or a highway without a central divider.

SOURCE Tesla Motors