Using a smartphone, a person can now command a Tesla to turn itself on, back out of its parking space and drive to the smartphone holder’s location — say, at the curb in front of a Costco store…
Tesla recommends the feature for parking lots, and the technology’s range — 200 feet — limits its applications. But in theory, a car can be summoned anywhere — to drive down a public street, for instance. Sure enough, videos quickly sprouted of Tesla owners doing just that, and more.
Is it legal? Yes, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. And even though the state has safety requirements that must be met before companies can deploy driverless cars, Tesla’s latest service doesn’t need a permit.
That’s because the DMV determined that the combination of Smart Summon and the cars’ robot systems doesn’t count as “autonomous technology.” The department’s rationale is the car is “under the control” of the person holding the smartphone.