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Tesla releases update to its auto-park software after Utah crash

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LINDON — A week after a Utah man claimed his Tesla Model S started on its own and crashed into a trailer, the automobile company released an update to its Summon auto-park software.

Tesla did not say the update was directly related to the Utah incident. In a statement released to KSL.com, a company spokesperson noted that its teams “constantly build updates to our software and specifically autopilot features to continue to improve the feature and user experience.”

Summon is a relatively new parking feature that represents a step toward autonomous driving. The software’s main purposes are to help drivers better navigate blind spots and improve convenience while parking, according to Tesla. If a driver opts in to use the beta software, they can activate the car to park itself after they leave the vehicle.

The update to the Summon software will make it so drivers have to physically confirm on the console which direction they would like the vehicle to travel after the auto-park function is activated by double-pressing the park stalk. Previously, the auto-park system was set to travel forward by default, but could be changed to reverse instead by using the console.

Jared Overton said he still believes his Telsa crashed into the back of a trailer due to a Summon malfunction. He said the company hasn’t reached out to him since it sent him a report after the incident. The letter said the vehicle log indicated that Summon had been activated by the driver, implying he was at fault.

“I feel like Tesla knows what happened,” he said. “They know something happened or else they would not have released this new upgrade.”

However, Overton said that while he thinks the upgrade is a good addition, it doesn’t address his concerns. He maintains that he didn’t activate Summon on accident, but said that even if that was the case the car still malfunctioned. The auto-park function is supposed to start several seconds after the driver exits the vehicle, but his car didn’t move while he stood nearby talking to another man.

Despite his frustration with a lack of communication from Tesla, Overton said he is still a big supporter of the automobile company. He plans to continue using Tesla personally and even hopes to integrate the company’s vehicles into the fleet of PigeonShip, the shipping company he founded.

“It’s kind of ironic,” he said. “I’m like the biggest Tesla fan and I love it … I want the general public to know this isn’t motivated by anything other than fixing a malfunction. I’m not boycotting Tesla. I think they’re a fascinating company. There are going to be glitches, and they’re going to take care of glitches. This is a glitch they didn’t handle right.”

Overton already has his Tesla back from the shop. It only needed to have the windshield replaced, so he said he isn’t concerned about the cost. However, he’d still like Tesla to take a closer look at his situation to prevent future malfunctions.

Below is the full statement a Tesla spokesperson provided to KSL.com in regards to the update:

“We constantly build updates to our software and specifically Autopilot features to continue to improve the feature and user experience. In February’s update to Summon, we introduced an advanced feature set that users could opt in to. This power user mode includes an enhancement to AutoPark that allows the driver to initiate a parking maneuver from a double-press of the park stalk. The driver is then presented with an audible notification, a text alert in the instrument cluster, and a large pop-up on the center display notifying them that AutoPark has been initiated and showing the direction the vehicle is prepared to move and an option to cancel the pending maneuver. Upon exit from the vehicle, hazard flashers indicate pending motion and the vehicle begins the parking maneuver. As instructed in the opt-in dialogue, drivers who use this feature should monitor the vehicle’s surroundings and be prepared to stop it at any time by pressing on the keyfob, mobile app, or a door handle.

This week we updated the feature to require physical confirmation of the direction of travel on the center display after double-press of the park stalk to ensure proper use. To date, Summon has been safely and successfully used hundreds of thousands of times by customers.”

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Natalie Crofts

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