Oh, Tesla—you always make it interesting. Last week, the electric carmaker rolled out a couple of very fun new updates, like “caraoke,” a sharper Automatic Lane Change feature, and in-car app upgrades. But nothing seemed to catch the attention of Tesla lovers—and haters—more than “Smart Summon,” a feature that allows drivers to beckon their empty cars to them through empty parking lots. But of course, the feature is in beta, and it’s not yet perfect. Does it have normal, no-big-deal bugs, or is it a safety disaster? Well, like most things Tesla, that depends on where you’re sitting. The federal auto safety regulator says it’s aware of Smart Summon and still “gathering information” about the feature. For now, as with all things driving-related: Pay attention out there, people!
Also this week: A “flying car” gets quieter, a brand new airline won’t squish your legs (because you can’t actually fly inside its “planes”), and we explore why Rio’s much-anticipated transit system is struggling. It’s been a week; let’s get you caught up.
Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week
- Not a millionaire? You might still be able to afford one of these semiautonomous cars.
- Why itty bitty cars might help researchers crack self-driving.
- Tesla’s Smart Summon feature is classic Tesla—and it doesn’t mean your robotaxi is around the corner.
- The Federal Aviation Administration recognizes UPS as an official commercial airline, but for drones.
- Rio’s gondolas sure are picturesque, and promised to be endlessly useful to the residents of one of the cities underserved favelas. Too bad they turned out to be a garbage form of transit.
- The newest “flying car” from Kitty Hawk is powered by eight motors, but promises a near-silent flight.
- If you’re a first responder, you’ll like Bosch’s new “pyrofuse”, a safety tool that will automatically sever the connection between the car’s power and its battery—so you won’t get electrocuted while doing your job.
Near Miss of the Week
On Monday, the internet freaked out over this video, which shows a berserking catering truck almost careening into an American Airlines-affiliated Embraer 145 airplane before a quick-thinking employee smashed the thing, Mario Kart-style, to save the day:
Here’s what American told WIRED about the incident: “Preliminary reports indicate that the accelerator became stuck and caused the catering cart to lose control. No American Airlines team members were injured and the incident resulted in one 10 minute flight delay. We appreciate the quick action of our team member who stopped the vehicle.” Us too.
Stat of the Week
In recent AAA tests, that’s the percentage of the time that cars with automatic emergency braking still hit adult pedestrian-shaped crash dummies—even while only moving at the relatively slow speed of 20 mph, and even in daylight. For child-shaped crash dummies, the numbers were even scarier: Those got hit a disturbing 89 percent of the time.
News from elsewhere on the internet