How Our Best Friends Can Benefit from Self-Driving Cars

Some drivers are worried about how their pets might act if allowed to climb onto and sit on the delicate upholstery. Too often, Fido is relegated to a spot in the second or (gasp) third row, lest his nails damage the expensive and hard-to-clean upholstery, denied a space next to his best friend.

Fortunately, this isn’t an issue for Tesla owners, who have no problem letting their dogs sit in the front row. Or the driver’s seat. In the video, a patient, nonplussed Golden Retriever is perched in the driver’s seat while its owner (presumably) backs the Model S onto the driveway using the remote Summon feature. Thanks to the advancements in remote technology, stunts like this one are possible on Tesla Models S and X using the available Summon feature.

Think of Summon like a game of Fetch with your car, whereby you can press a button and move your car to or fro, from a distance. Tesla introduced the technology, which can be activated through a smartphone app or by tapping on the front or back of the car-shaped Tesla key fob, earlier this year as an extension of its Autopilot semi-autonomous driving functionality. The steering wheel is able to move independently of the pup, and the Model S is able to reverse flawlessly, one click at a time.

This is hardly the first recorded evidence of a Tesla moving under its own power, although it is the first time that man’s best friend was in the driver’s seat. (Subaru likes dogs, as does Nissan, but they’re never been seen operating the pedals.) If there’s one thing Tesla drivers like doing, it’s showing off just how savvy their Silicon Valley–inspired automobiles are. The automaker released its own how-to footage when Summon first debuted, showing some slick moves by a Model S exiting a garage using an integrated feature that opens the garage door. Another amateur film demonstrates the cleverness of a Model S that can pick its owner up when it’s raining outside, as well as the real time it takes for the sedan to meander to the awning. Only in a few instances does Summon hiccup, whether because of an imperfection in a road surface or from infrastructure circumstances outside the car’s control.

So as it turns out, it looks like you can teach old dogs (in this case, a four-year-old Tesla) new tricks. Now, go grab a Tesla, someone else’s canine, and get out and play.