Tesla Now Parks Itself In A Garage With Version 7.1 Software


On Friday night, Tesla Motors began downloading Version 7.1 of its Autopilot software over the internet. On Saturday morning, Tesla owners in North America woke up to find their cars had acquired a new talent overnight. They can drive themselves, at speeds up to 1 mph, either forward or backward for up to 39 feet with no actual human being in the car.

Tesla Summon parking

Known as the Summon feature, it makes it possible for a Tesla to park itself in a garage all by itself, close the garage door, and wait patiently for its owner to call for it. Then it will open the garage door and exit the garage, shutting the door behind itself. It’s not quite the Second Coming, but it will give Tesla owners an excuse to post a bazillion videos of their cars going (slowly) in and out of garages all over the world.

One of them was made by Teslarati’s Electric Jen, who was one of the first to post a video of her Model S putting on a display of its new found Summon function. The feature allows the Tesla to park in any perpendicular parking space, even ones that are too narrow to allow the doors to open. Now, as long as the owner is within 10 feet of the car, it can travel up to 39 feet straight ahead or straight back. Why anyone would want to park a car that costs more than $100,000 in a space so narrow it practically guarantees getting its doors dinged remains a mystery, but if you want to, now you can.

Tesla warns that the car cannot detect narrow objects, like bicycles, along the walls of the garage or objects hanging from the rafters, like kayaks. It also cannot “see” objects on the ground that aren’t higher than fascia, like a skateboard. So owners will have to “Tesla-proof” their garages before using the Summon feature.

The Version 7.1 download comes with lots of other features and functionality upgrades as well. They are the items highlighted in blue in the photo below. The most notable is a new speed restriction that comes into play when the Autopilot self-driving mode is active. From now on, while traveling on residential streets with no barrier between traffic lanes, the car will not go more than 5 mph over the posted speed limit. This change is in response to several idiots who made videos of themselves doing ridiculously dangerous things while their cars were in Autopilot mode. Elon Musk’s wonderful machines have now been programmed to override human stupidity, and not a moment too soon.

7.1 = 1

The rest of the software tweaks are not nearly so spectacular but offer useful upgrades. The display screen in front of the driver will now show multiple vehicles ahead and can represent them as either cars. trucks, or motorcycles. The trip advisor will now show whether a nearby SuperCharger location is active or closed for maintenance. All four door handles no longer present themselves when the owner approaches. Now, one press of a button activates the driver’s door handle. Pressing twice activates all four. The change is to calm the fears of some drivers that an unauthorized person could gain entrance to the interior of the car if all four handles operate automatically in unison.

It’s possible to pooh pooh the changes as minor tweaks that are hardly worth all the blather and ballyhoo. But that misses the point, which is that Tesla is currently the only company that listens to what its customers say they want, then constantly updates its cars’ software wirelessly via the internet rather than requiring a trip to the dealer. That way, every car ever built is kept fully up to date technologically, even it is several years old. That’s a huge advancement over what is the norm in the industry.

It won’t be long before a Tesla owner can step out of the car and instruct it to go find an available charger, plug itself in, then proceed to an available parking space after it is fully charged.┬áIt’s coming sooner than you think.

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • Raphael Sturm

    I guess this will also be the future of supercharging. With general charging times going down and more and more Teslas on the road, we will get to a point where you can’t just park it there and go off doing something else, because your fully charged car will be in the way of other people wanting to charge. But waiting, even 10-15 minutes, until the car is charged isn’t practical. So letting the car charge and then park, is by far the most convenient and polite solution, while minimizing the need for additional charging at existing sites. If you could also drive to a full supercharger and tell it to charge as soon as a spot is open and the car could tell you how long it takes until it can charge and when it will be ready, charging a Tesla might be the most convenient thing ever.

    • Steve Hanley

      Elon is way ahead of both of us. Read today’s latest story. It will make you head spin!

      • Raphael Sturm

        Wow, thats extreme! Especially that the car will charge itself along the way. But I always thought those automated chargers weren’t for home use, but for commercial. If you don’t want to plug in your car, which isn’t really something you have to do daily with a Tesla. Inductive charging is the best solution. But if you want to send lots of power into the car, inductive charging has its limits. I am sure we will see higher power, automated chargers, at least shown to us, over the next year. I guess they will want to increase the power, especially through increasing the Voltage, to not be surprised by VW/Porsches 350kW charger.

        • Steve Hanley

          The automatic chargers will be at SuperCharger stations only, as I understand it.

          As for wireless, Nissan is pushing hard for this. The head of battery development at VW says wireless cannot support fast enough charging rates to be worthwhile.

          One of them is right! ; – )

          • Raphael Sturm

            I guess both are right, wireless is just for very slow charging, but privately slow charging isn’t really a problem. I guess most people will still use charging cords, but if the inductive charger isn’t a lot more expensive, it can be very convenient with self driving cars. You could let your car drive you to work and send it back home for example. But with increasing ranges charging won’t be a daily job, for most, it won’t even be something to do weekly. The consumer will decide, I guess.

          • Steve Hanley

            We won’t recognize the world of transportation 5 years from now. The changes are coming thick and fast.

            I like the idea that my electric car could park itself in my garage right over the wireless charger (alignment is critical to performance, so I hear), so my car will be fully charged in the am. After that, I really don’t care about fast charging unless I am on the highway. which only happens 2 – 3 times a year for me.

            Soon, all homes will have chargers so guests won’t even have to charge on the highway if the journey is not too long.

          • Raphael Sturm

            I guess the changes will come slowly, but steadily. Remember back when there were no cellphones. We had to be everywhere in time and when we were able to get lost. Cars broke down and you’d had to mend them as good as possible, or ask someone to take you to the next fuel station to call someone. I guess it will be the same with automated cars in 10-15 years, people without them will be weirdos and we won’t able able to imagine to how to lived our lives without that convenience. We won’t have to hunt for parking spaces anymore and, sadly, cab drivers will be put out of their jobs by companies like uber.

          • Steve Hanley

            Hopefully, it will still be legal to drive my Miata on public roads 15 years from now. I plan on keeping it that long, which I guess makes me one of those “weirdos” you arre referring to. ; – )

      • The 6.6kW Plugless for Tesla S will begin its rollout VERY, VERY soon. Which for home and/or work installations should work for most daily driving patterns (like the vast majority – not everyone and not EVERY day).

        • Steve Hanley

          That’s good information, Steve. Have to keep an eye out for news on that subject. Thanks for sharing.