Tesla updates self-parking feature after Model S crash

Tesla Model S

Tesla is rolling out a software update for its cars to prevent them from crashing while being summoned autonomously.

Last week, a Model S owner in Utah reported that his parked car moved forward and crashed into a parked trailer in front of it. The owner claimed this all happened unprovoked, but Tesla refuted the claim by reading the car's logs. The company determined that the Summon feature was activated, which lets Tesla owners autonomously summon their parked cars from a parking spot via their phone.

The software update, spotted by a reddit user, will prevent user error by asking for confirmation about whether the car should move forward or reverse before doing so. Why this wasn't set by default is baffling. Still, it's worrying that there weren't any failsafes integrated into the feature.

In Tesla's defense, it does warn drivers that its self-parking feature "may not detect certain obstacles, including those that are very narrow (e.g. bikes), lower than the fascia, or hanging from the ceiling."

This isn't the first time Tesla users have put too much faith in their car's self-driving abilities. Many drivers reported near-misses while using Tesla's Autopilot feature when it first rolled out.

The lesson here is that although Tesla markets its cars as being able to drive themselves, the features only work in specific situations and a person should be present at all times to take control of the vehicle.

Lewis Leong
Lewis Leong is a freelance writer for TechRadar. He has an unhealthy obsession with headphones and can identify cars simply by listening to their exhaust notes.