How little things add up.
You know that most new cars have onboard computers to analyze, operate and alert. You’ve also begun to experience your home presenting a growing list of computer governed devices from refrigerator to entertainment center. Roomba will vacuum, while bObsweep also mops! What about the garage door?
Yes, that too!
Generally, I push the button to open the garage door long before I get right in front of it. It would be nice if the little box I call The Opener could communicate with the mechanism that opens the garage door on its own. Simple Bluetooth stuff. As I approach the garage door, the Bluetooth signal is picked up and the door begins to open so I can drive in without a pause. Nice! Lazy, but nice. Can you imagine what comes next?
Next we realize that it’s not so out of sequence to imagine software on the car itself, equipped with a sensor to activate the garage door as the car approaches. Add to that the step of the car driving itself. On command from you, the car starts and engages. It senses the need to open the garage door and sends the signal to open the door. Then it moves forward – slowly – into the garage. It senses objects to the right and left and adjusts. It also senses before and behind. When the car is entirely inside the garage it sends the signal to close the door. [Video of Tesla parallel parking.]
What has happened? Your car has responded to your command to park itself! Now reverse that for your morning. You “Summon” your car and it opens the garage door and drives out to meet you at the front of your house – condo garages presently excluded as this operation needs a straight line up the driveway into the garage.
Are you ready for one more step? Eventually. Your car is in New York. You fly to Los Angeles and need a ride to the airport. Your car knows this because it has synched with your calendar indicating when you will need that ride. Your car wakes up at the appropriate moment, giving sufficient time to drive to Los Angeles. It arrives on time at your hotel, then takes you to the airport before driving back home.
Gradual incremental software updates have made computers a valuable resource. The same process which has empowered computers, tablets and phones is now being applied to your car. Tesla aims to take that process from simple start up to autonomous driving. Says Tesla founder Elon Musk, “Your Tesla will eventually be able to drive anywhere across the country to meet you, charging itself along the way. It will sync with your calendar to know exactly when to arrive.”
The “Summon” functionality is part of Tesla’s Autopilot self-driving technology, and was introduced in October 2015, with version 7.0 of Tesla software. Tesla says you can prompt the car to “…open your garage door, enter your garage, park itself, and shut down. In the morning, you wake up, walk out the front door, and summon your car. It will open the garage door and come to greet you. More broadly, Summon also eliminates the burden of having to squeeze in and out of tight parking spots.
That’s a lot of cross-country docking stations to build in the next two years.