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NHTSA acknowledges Tesla Smart Summon incidents

The agency is reportedly in contact with Tesla to collect more information.

NHTSA promises action if it finds a defect.
Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Tesla's recent V10 software update rolls out plenty of new features, but none of them are as anticipated, or as controversial, as Smart Summon. The remote control-like feature allows a Tesla vehicle (with no driver present) to drive toward an owner at low speeds via an app. Needless to say, owners have already misused the feature and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has taken notice.

NHTSA said on Wednesday it's in the process of gathering information on Smart Summon and related incidents. Earlier this week we covered just a few of the crashes and near misses Smart Summon has caused in just a few days, and clearly, they got NHTSA's attention.

In a statement, the agency said, "NHTSA is aware of reports related to Tesla's Summon feature. We are in ongoing contact with the company and we continue to gather information. Safety is NHTSA's top priority and the agency will not hesitate to act if it finds evidence of a safety-related defect. NHTSA encourages drivers to report vehicle issues via NHTSA's online Vehicle Owners Questionnaire system."

Roadshow reached out to Tesla for comment but the company did not respond.

To Tesla's credit, the automaker did explicitly note where and when the beta feature should be used. In the V10 software update release notes, the automaker writes, "Smart Summon is only intended for use in private parking lots and driveways." Numerous videos posted to social media show owners using the feature in crowded parking lots with other cars and pedestrians. Some ended with minor crashes, while others showed the feature wasn't able to work well at all. Some owners have found the system works well, however.

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