Update, May 12, 2016: Tesla has provided both a statement and a copy of the letter it sent the owner. Those are at the bottom of the page.
Car accidents aren't exactly a great thing, no matter who's at fault. But what happens when your car allegedly drives itself into an obstacle, seemingly ruining itself without any human intervention? That's what oneowner is claiming happened to his car.
While running errands, the owner claimed he parked his Model S behind a trailer. After a minute of standing near the car and talking to a fan of the brand, the owner went inside a nearby business. Five minutes later, he came out to a car with a crushed windshield and A-pillars.
After bringing the issue to Tesla's attention, the automaker claimed it was not Tesla's fault. Rather, the owner was "not being properly attentive" when using the car's Summon feature, which can autonomously park the vehicle using its built-in sensors. The owner claimed he never engaged Summon.
It's a weird scenario, for sure. Summon shouldn't take several minutes to engage, and the owner claims he stood by the car for a bit before going inside, during which time he would have noticed a moving vehicle. "They can tell me what they want to tell me with the logs, but it doesn't change what we know happened here," KSL quotes the owner as saying.
Of course, this could be a case of an accidental Summon command sending the vehicle into the trailer, because the trailer appears high enough to be "hidden" from Tesla's sensors, which focus on areas more in line with the front and rear ends. Whether or not that Summon command came from the owner or a glitch in the system remains to be determined. Bear in mind, Summon is still considered to be in beta, just like Tesla's semi-autonomous Autopilot system.
Tesla's statement regarding this matter has been pasted below.
Safety is a top priority at Tesla, and we remain committed to ensuring our cars are among the absolute safest vehicles on today's roads. It is paramount that our customers also exercise safe behavior when using our vehicles - including remaining alert and present when using the car's autonomous features, which can significantly improve our customers' overall safety as well as enhance their driving experience.
Summon, when used properly, allows Tesla owners to park in narrow spaces that would otherwise have been very difficult or impossible to access. While Summon is currently in beta, each Tesla owner must agree to the following terms on their touch screen before the feature is enabled:
This feature will park Model S while the driver is outside the vehicle. Please note that the vehicle may not detect certain obstacles, including those that are very narrow (e.g., bikes), lower than the fascia, or hanging from the ceiling. As such, Summon requires that you continually monitor your vehicle's movement and surroundings while it is in progress and that you remain prepared to stop the vehicle at any time using your key fob or mobile app or by pressing any door handle. You must maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle when using this feature and should only use it on private property.
The automaker also passed along a copy of the letter it sent to the owner, saying that the owner's alleged timeline of events does not jibe with the data Tesla received from the car. I have deleted all personal information regarding the owner at Tesla's request (and at the behest of Internet Common Sense).