Videos of incidents relating to Tesla's Smart Summon feature have been flooding the internet.
Tesla recently rolled out its v10.0 update, which added a new 'Smart Summon' feature. This enables the Model 3, Model S, and Model X to navigate parking lots without a driver behind the wheel and pick up their owners from their chosen destination. Tesla believes "it's the perfect feature to use if you have an overflowing shopping cart, are dealing with a fussy child, or simply don't want to walk to your car through the rain,"
According to Elon Musk, as many as 550,000 owners have already used the Smart Summon feature. Predictably, however, the technology has some teething issues.
Since the update was launched, many owners have been posting videos of near-misses and accidents involving driverless Teslas being operated with the Smart Summon feature. This has now attracted the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is currently investigating if Tesla's Smart Summon technology is a safety hazard.
"We are in ongoing contact with the company and we continue to gather information," the NHTSA told Reuters. "Safety is NHTSA's top priority and the agency will not hesitate to act if it finds evidence of a safety-related defect."
Smart Summon can only be used if the car is in the line of sight of the owner and is designed to avoid or stop for objects. Users can also quickly stop the car by releasing the app's button, but Tesla advises that owners are "still responsible for your car and must monitor it and its surroundings at all times and be within your line of sight because it may not detect all obstacles. Be especially careful around quick-moving people, bicycles and cars."
In a video posted on Twitter last week, a Model 3 using Smart Summon can be seen exiting a parking space by itself. As it begins to cross an intersection the car fails to detect a passing SUV, which has to slam on the brakes to avoid crashing into the Tesla.