Tesla Model 3. Photo: Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

U.S. safety regulators are looking into crashes and near-misses involving Tesla's new Smart Summon parking feature, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: If the software is found to be unsafe, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could order a recall.

Background: The Smart Summon feature is part of a software update Tesla released last week for its vehicles.

  • Using their phones, drivers can call their car from a nearby parking space to pick them up.
  • CEO Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla owners used the Smart Summon feature 550,000 times in the first few days.
  • Some of them posted videos on social media showing near-accidents, with one car hitting a garage and others blocking traffic in crowded parking lots.

What they're saying: In response to media inquiries, NHTSA said it “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.”

My thought bubble: Without any clear regulations on automated vehicles, the NHTSA needs to crack down on beta-testing such features on the public.

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