According to inventor Elon Musk, the latest innovation in Tesla electric vehicles is now. Or at least a few weeks from now. It's the likelihood that the high-profile environmentally-friendly four-wheeler will be powered with a smartphone, just like those remote controlled cars that you used to find wrapped under the Christmas tree.
Tesla advanced Summon ready in ~6 weeks! Just an over-the-air software upgrade, so will work on all cars made in past 2 years (Autopilot hardware V2+).— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 1, 2018
Already, the Tesla second-generation Autopilot feature can park itself, change lanes automatically depending on the whims of its human driver, and can be hailed from the garage. Now with the latest innovation dubbed Smart Summon, users will be able to get the Tesla to automatically drive itself to your phone location tracked on GPs and even follow you around like a puppy if the summon button on the phone app stays pressed down.
The cost for that convenience has been priced at around $5,000. But, if you already have a Tesla, you might already be able to afford it. The rest of us might have to extract a pound of flesh and see how long it takes to forego gasoline before we realize the return on such an automotive investment. In all fairness, it hasn't exactly been a picnic for Musk, whose company has worked on the feature for at least two years, delaying the rollout of the Smart Summon a few times already.
But regardless of the holdup, Smart Summon will be about as close to anything resembling a totally driverless car. And to that end, Musk is also promising additional features down the road to make the human behind the steering wheel even more obsolete.
Expect more camera-oriented software responses along with the ultrasonic detectors already onboard Tesla cars to be more advanced with a camera agnostic computer vision system to enable the car to get around more obstacles and more complicated roads. Musk also claimed that the technology already exists for a Tesla to locate a parking spot and even read parking signs. It already knows how to self-park.
Nerdier types are no doubt hankering for the time when Musk's SpaceX rocket craft can be summoned by smartphone. It's a safe bet that option is off the table for now.