Smart summon causes ugly confrontation with another parent

Smart summon causes ugly confrontation with another parent

Let me begin by saying that I used smart summon this afternoon in an environment that was not the smartest to use it. But I was with my parents who are both handicapped and have a very difficult time walking, and my five year old who is very unpredictable. We were at a community park next to a high school that had a very large parking lot. I had eyes on my Tesla and decided to use smart summon. I could not see any people, especially children, in the summon path. Apparently the car next to mine had a dad who was loading up an eight and ten year old into his SUV that was directly next to me. So what I thought was eyes on everything was actually a blind spot right next to my car. I couldn't see them because the SUV was so large and that side of their SUV was pretty much the only place I didn't have eyes on. Maybe that was my biggest mistake. My Model 3 pulled out about 2 feet, and all of a sudden to my surprise the family of three came out to see what was going on. I obviously let go and immediately walked over to see what was going on. I tried to explain that the car used cameras to make sure no one would get hit, and that if anyone was in its path (which I've tested on my own) it would immediately stop. I felt really awful, and then the confrontation got very ugly and aggressive, cursing, physical threats, a demand for an apology. It was 90 degrees out today, and two exhausted handicapped grandparents and my own five year old, I could have used better judgement and opted to figure something else out.

Magic 8 Ball | 06/10/2019

Bummer, got any dashcam footage to share?

guydude | 06/10/2019

yes, please share dash cam footage

kevin_rf | 06/10/2019

Didn't I mention in one of the other threads, the biggest threat with advanced summon was not having enough visibility of the car when executing it in relation to little people.

Wonder of they need to somehow send a 360 view to the phone so people can prevent this.

Glad no one was hurt. Makes perfect sense with elderly parents to want to bring the car to them.

kevin_rf | 06/10/2019

Didn't I mention in one of the other threads, the biggest threat with advanced summon was not having enough visibility of the car when executing it in relation to little people.

Wonder of they need to somehow send a 360 view to the phone so people can prevent this.

Glad no one was hurt. Makes perfect sense with elderly parents to want to bring the car to them.

kevin_rf | 06/10/2019

What's up with this phone tonight, second double pay in a row

lmorda2 | 06/10/2019

I didn't have my thumb stick plugged in at the time, no dash cam footage. I really wish I had.

82bert | 06/10/2019

Why do so many not have their usb drive connected? Am I the only one that takes it out only to clear (which is rare) and then immediately plug it back in?

douglas_peale | 06/10/2019

82bert Some of us are waiting for a replacement USB drive after the car suddenly decided the USB drive that worked fine for 5 months suddenly is "too slow". I tested the "too slow" drive and its minimum write speed was 10 MB/sec. Average was MUCH higher.

M3phan | 06/10/2019

Oh boy. Glad it didn’t injure. Eyes on every part of the car, people.
Teslacam: Samsung SSD 500 GB works great

FISHEV | 06/10/2019

Do the instructions state that it is only safe to use Summon when you can clearly see 360 around the car? That's a pretty short leash. I'd think most of the time, people can't even see the Tesla.

Guess in hindsight, let the car come to you and point out the car presented no danger and no one was threatened.

M3phan | 06/10/2019

Yes, instructions include verbiage a la line of sight.

kevin_rf | 06/10/2019

That's the biggest danger, people blindly punching the button without ever looking. Which is not the case here, he looked, but did not see the danger.

M3phan | 06/10/2019

If I can’t see my car is free and clear, I don’t press. Which is why I park away from everyone.

82bert | 06/10/2019

Amazon prime. It’s quick.

howard | 06/10/2019

Very sorry about the confrontation. That must have been very unsettling. I fully understand your position with elderly parents been there with both sets. Summon is just not ready for real life convenience. As pointed out it needs to be isolated with light if any traffic. It’s not that the car might have hit someone or perhaps catches a fast opening door but it could easily startle someone who could in turn have an accident. Or as demonstrated make someone incredibly mad especially if they sensed their kids were endangered. I won’t use it until it is fully released in non beta from and only if seriously needed.

jamilworm | 06/10/2019

There's all this talk of "danger", but I don't think there was really much danger. As the OP points out, smart summon is very sensitive to pedestrians around the car. Even if the operator didn't see them, I am very confident the car would have stopped itself if anyone was in the path.

RedShift | 06/10/2019

Thing is, people do not expect a driverless car to start moving by itself. Darting in the path of the car, or just plain scaring passers by is certainly something to consider.

beaver | 06/10/2019

Advance summons is very scary for parents walking their kids through the parking lot. I personally think it’s a terrible idea and a gimmick or toy. Better safe than sorry

jamilworm | 06/10/2019

@RedShift - You do have a good point that people are not expecting an empty car to move and so they would not be as careful around one. When you begin summon the car does flash lights (not sure if it makes a sound) and that is probably to alert people nearby that it is about to start driving. But most people probably don't know what that means.

rwa | 06/10/2019

How long before someone places a baby carrier down where it can't be seen, and thinks it's safe because they would see someone get in the car before it could ever move?

Does anybody really believe the camera sensors are detecting static baby carriers on the ground right now?

Summon with the current technology is a bad idea. Full stop. It provides very little value, but risks the entire self driving enterprise if there's a tragedy.

lilbean | 06/10/2019

Putting a baby carrier on the ground with a baby in it is just plain stupid.

M3phan | 06/10/2019

@rwa, easy enough to test; put a large doll or teddy bear in a baby carrier beside your M3 and engage Smart Summon. That said, no parent would place a baby in a carrier on the ground next to a car, and if they did, certainly not in front or behind it.

RedShift | 06/10/2019


The car doesn’t make a sound, it just flashes, and turns on the parking lights (I think parking lights). When it does flash, nearby people might think the owner must have just unlocked the car with the key fob remotely, coz that’s the behavior of most other cars. They won’t know about the summon about to start.

I don’t know specifically what the other family thought was the danger to them that they felt like threatening violence. Might be an overreaction.

However, the responsibility is on the Tesla owner to make sure everything is clear to start the summon operation. Otherwise it’s your ass, even if the car does something unexpected, or if someone simply gets pissed, as what’s happened here.

diegoPasadena | 07/10/2019

I imagine that in the days when horseless carriages first drove down the main streets of America there might have been similar confrontations. New tech will rub some people wrong no matter what it is, particularly when they're startled by it.

That being said, I agree that smart summon could be counter productive in fostering the acceptance of autonomous driving. I see it more as a proof of concept than as a solution for a real problem. For now I'd go get the car and drive back to pick up the parents - even though in the near future it may turn out that pedestrians in parking lots might be safer statistically with smart summon than with me on the wheel.

dmanincali | 07/10/2019

I don't know about you but I typically won't start pulling out of a space if the car next to me has the doors open. It's not safe. Completely understand why they'd flip out.

Smart summon is not ready for prime time and it's things like this that are going to set back FSD --- not push it forward.

dmanincali | 07/10/2019

And btw not necessarily saying the OP is to blame. If Tesla is going to allow smart summon they should make sure it detects things like this. All the warnings may protect Tesla from liability to a point but it won't help with getting regulator approval for FSD.

kevin_rf | 07/10/2019

Just want to point out that it had been proven the car with AP engaged does not always stop for construction barrels.

As much as we would like to think it will stop for a baby carrier, the issue is if people are loading the car next to you, most of us wait for them before pulling out. As far as I can tell, summon does not wait for them. Hence, the startle and anger factor.

MadOverlord | 07/10/2019

IMHO as someone who has tested SS extensively, you should not use SS in situations where there is significant car or pedestrian traffic. Probably your best move would have been to get your parents comfortable, then take your child with you when fetching the car.

SS is a great demo for the car, and when people know what's about to happen, they love it (even better, put them in the car and then SS it somewhere). But it is not ready for general purpose use.

@rwa: If an obstruction is small enough and close enough to the car to be below the view of the cameras and ultrasonics, then obviously SS is going to miss it. But a baby-carrier is large enough that in order to do this you'd basically have to wedge it under the bumper. It is possible that a crawling toddler could get close enough and low enough to be invisible to the car.

Probably the solution to this issue is have a standard sound the car makes when it summons (I favor the Jetson's car sound, but I'm a traditionalist) as a cue that a nearby car is going to start moving.

I agree, sending a 360 view of the surroundings to the phone would be a good idea. Also letting the controller know when the last sentry mode event was.

dmastro | 07/10/2019

Glad everyone was OK. It's unfortunate that the situation escalated that far.

This is all part of the self-driving shakeout that has been discussed in other threads. Operating your car from a couple hundred feet away is very different than from inside the car where you can see everything around you. We're learning about blind-spots, other driver behavior in parking lots, the value of being able to make eye contact with another driver to know that you're each paying attention, etc.

Incidents like this (unfortunately) should be expected and frequent as the feature is deployed into the wild.

Based on the experience and feedback of owners, the feature will be refined over time. I like the idea about 360 footage streamed to the phone... not sure in the age of 4G how well it will stream real-time, but as 5G becomes commonplace I think it's feasible based on what I know about the technology.

rwa | 07/10/2019

"Putting a baby carrier on the ground is stupid"

Of course it's stupid. Think of how stupid the average person is. Then realize half of them are stupider than that "- G. Carlin

People back over their own children in their own driveways. People are stupid and careless. But their stupidity and carelessness is going to be the vehicle operator's problem if the vehicle runs over something or someone. For what?

ICEMELT | 07/10/2019

Thanks for sharing. Good scenario to be aware of.

bjrosen | 07/10/2019

You've just pointed out the fatal flaw in smart summon, unless you are near your car then you can't be sure that there is nobody is around when the car pulls out, and if you are near the car then why not just pull the car out normally. You can't risk other peoples lives with beta software.

In your situation you should have left your five year old with his grandparents and then brought the car around yourself. Also, don't your parents carry handicapped placards so that you can park in a handicapped space? My wife has a really bad back so you she has a placard which we use when ever shes in the car with me.

Joshan | 07/10/2019

guess it never rains where bj lives.

Techy James | 07/10/2019

Let me say this. I have done a total of 4 test of smart summon with the following results.
1) The car was with no cars to it's left or behind, in spot to right of it with a car. The car had 2 cars between me an in and Aisle it was facing was to my right a bit. This instance the car backed up a bit the steered to left to create more space to right where there was car. Not necessairly but wasn't a dangerous move. The came down Aisle and stopped with Driver door facing me. Parking lot had only about 6 total cars in it at time of test.
2) The Car was parked at work 2 Aisle down and to my left at first spot along island curb. There was a car behind it and to it's left. The car pulled out as expected then came towards me and made a sudden left turn. on down Aisle just before reaching me and was heading away from me. I stopped test at this point.
3) The car was backed in with no space behind it to my left it pulled out and started coming down aisle when kid ran from parent as they left the dinner to my left. I stopped the car at this point and walked to car as it was blocking them in where they was parked. Stopped test due to unexpected child, and moved it out of the way of the families car.
4) The car was pulled in to where it would have to backout with one car on it's left. The car backed out but instead of backing up away from me, it back up towards me. then moved couple of spaces down aisle heading away, till it passed the 4 cars in middle Aisle ahead of me. I continued test as it was still safe. The car pulled through empty spots and then came down Aisle to my right, then turn to be on the right side of road and drivers door facing me.
My test lead me to believe the car prefers to end up with the drivers door facing you. That would have explained both 2 and 4. But in case of 2 there was no space to cross before it would have left the smart summon range.
If this feature a danger. In it's self if used smartly NO. Is this feature ready for busy parking lots with lots of pedestrians and cars, again No. But if used smartly then the system will continue to improve, and eventually get to point where it can be used both to park and come to you from anywhere in a private parking lot. It's just like a new driver. would you take a 1st time driver that has never been behind the wheel in LA Rush hour traffic. I would hope not that is inviting a disaster. Instead you would take them to empty parking lot and let them get a feel for car before moving to open roads. Maybe even adding cones to give steering practice of objects to avoid.

ddorbuck | 07/10/2019

@lmorda2. i believe you acted responsibly and stopped the summon once you were made aware of any issues with it. I have seen too many youtube videos of (lets call them tesla youtube pro's) letting their cars hit curbs and standing almost too far away for a comfortable view, and one guy in a walmart parking cause a confrontation with a large truck and keep his finger solidly on the summon button. I also have parents in their 80's and 90's and a son who is 12. I can count on the boy not running off but im not so sure about my parents ;> i dont think you owe the other family anything other than you taking charge of what was going on and immediately stopping it .I witness too many people driving all type of vehicles with no regard for anyone other than themselves. Anyway enjoy the car! I love my model 3 and every day i realize again why i purchased it ...

rxlawdude | 07/10/2019

@kevin_rf that video shows a negligent driver.


Syed.Hosain | 07/10/2019

@dmanincali "I don't know about you but I typically won't start pulling out of a space if the car next to me has the doors open. It's not safe."

Entirely agreed - same with pulling in. I do the same.

jamilworm | 07/10/2019

If they are sliding doors on a minivan then it is safe.

TranzNDance | 07/10/2019

Ironically, one of the best use cases for Smart Summon is getting the car out of the parking spot when an SUV blocks visibility.

Bill Korea | 07/10/2019

How many people have oversized vehicles with a high seating position because they believe the commanding view makes driving safer, when in fact it makes maneuvering and seeing objects close to the vehicle more difficult? The line for dumb ideas is very long.

kevin_rf | 07/10/2019

rxlawdude, While I don't disagree with that assessment, it also shows a vehicle with AP enabled not recognizing construction barrels.

That is the concern, someone can be equally negligent with advanced summon and have it not recognize a barrel, groceries, a pet, a baby carrier, a child. Without having a clear 360 view, or paying attention, that is the risk. How many will blindly push the button without even looking?

jamilworm | 07/10/2019

@kevin_rf - AP is completely different than smart summon, there is no reason to think that a shortcoming of one is representative of the other. I believe Tesla has said that Autopilot is not intended to detect fixed obstacles, which is why that one car crashed into the fire truck. Smart summon, on the other hand, is designed to detect and avoid fixed obstacles, which are everywhere in a parking lot.

howard | 07/10/2019

Why risk bodily injury or property damage at all? Is your desire not to walk to the car really worth the risk? Are you that important to put others at risk for a novelty or a brief few minutes of convenience. It has never been enabled. I’ll wait till there is a certified level 5 FSD capability. Long long time till then.

alisse | 08/10/2019

SS is an awesome party trick, but not much more. I have used it from time-to-time, mostly just to feed the mothership with data, but only when I feel it is 100% safe to do so -- minimal cars in lot and clear line of sight. There's so much to love about this car, I can forgive a non-perfect experience here and use it with the intended purpose and warnings.