If you own a Tesla Model S or Model X, your all-electric car has a surprise waiting for you. Both vehicles can now park themselves while you stand by and watch from the curb. Yes, you read that correctly: the Model S and X can now truly drive themselves, thanks to software update 7.1, which is available now.
The new feature is called Summon, and Tesla is pitching it as a way to squeeze your car into a tight spot — one where it might be difficult to get in or out of the driver's door. It's best for parking in your tight, one-car garage. Just line up the car behind your garage door and press and hold the center button on the key fob. Once the hazard lights start flashing, just click the trunk button and your car will spontaneously drive forward into the open spot. The car will even automatically open or close your HomeLink-equipped garage door, provided you have it set up. Notably, the car can only drive straight in Summon mode. You can't hop out of your car at the restaurant and have your Tesla find a spot.
Summon is currently in beta, according to Tesla, so it's not enabled by default. Drivers will have to go to Controls > Settings > Driver Asssistance > Autopilot to enable it. Tesla has also expanded the vehicles' parking abilities to support perpendicular spaces. Previously, park assist was limited to parallel parking.
On a conference call with reporters a day after the software was released, CEO Elon Musk noted that Summon can also be used with a smartphone equipped with Tesla's app.
Update 7.1 also brings the limitations and advancements to Autopilot that Musk promised late last year. Autopilot was enabled back in October via update 7.0, and some irresponsible drivers promptly started doing incredibly stupid things with their cars. With this week's update, Autosteer will now be restricted if owners try to turn it on while driving on residential roads or streets without a central divider. The software will prohibit any speeds more than 5mph over the limit. Across the board, Tesla also says lane guidance is improved, especially near highways exit and entry ramps. In addition, Musk noted that vehicles now have "curve-speed adaptation" so that "the car will automatically look at oncoming curves ... and automatically reduce the speed."
As usual, there are a number of other updates — check here for a full changelog. And be safe out there!
Update, January 10th, 11:10AM ET: Tesla has confirmed that update 7.1 brings the same features to the Model X crossover as well.
Update, 3:24PM ET: Added note from Musk that cars can be summoned with smartphones, and added detail on curve-speed adaptation.
Correction: The Model S can only drive straight when in Summon mode — forwards to park and backwards to exit a spot — not just "forward" as was confusingly stated originally.
Thanks, Owen Mallek!