Tesla gave the world an interesting present for the holidays this year: the ability for owners of its vehicles to sneak up on pedestrians in their nearly-silent cars and then blast messages at full volume. Just what we always wanted! Thanks, Tesla. Coming as part of the automaker’s annual software update for 2019 and newer models, the feature basically turns the electric vehicle’s external speakers into enormous megaphones. At the press of a button, whatever drivers say in the cabin is emitted outside.
External speakers were recently federally mandated for electric cars in the United States so pedestrians can hear them coming, but something tells us lawmakers didn’t anticipate this usage. In a video Tesla shared on Twitter, a driver yells “excuse me, you dropped something” at a passerby dressed as Santa Claus after they dropped a gift. In another test, the sound is a bit distorted, making the speaker’s voice lower than usual. We’d like to think drivers will use this functionality for good clean fun instead of harassment, but that might be giving humans in general (if not Tesla drivers in particular) too much credit.
Talk through your Tesla with Boombox Megaphone 📢 pic.twitter.com/8xMO2bHP7L
— Tesla (@Tesla) December 24, 2021
This isn’t the first time Tesla put the external speakers on its vehicles to an unexpected use. Last year, the holiday software update included a new Boombox mode that allowed car owners to replace their car horn sound with whatever sound clips they want. Unsurprisingly, for many people that meant farting sound effects, goats bleating, air horns, and other obnoxious noises. But honestly, all of this is exactly what we’d expect from a company led by Elon Musk.
NEW Tesla Megaphone feature. This is crazy! These cars haha… pic.twitter.com/OB8oI3wwhH
— Ryan Shaw (@ryanshawtech) December 24, 2021
Tesla’s Software V11.0 is part of their “biggest holiday release yet,” the company writes on its blog. “Introducing some of our most creative features, from a new Light Show function that lets you (or anyone with a computer) choreograph light shows to your own music, to new games and entertainment experiences, safety features, customizable controls, and an all-new user-interface design. This week, Tesla owners around the world will be able to do more with their cars, and have even more fun, all with a free, over-the-air software update.”
That’s right, anybody can now create their own unique Tesla Light Show, even if you don’t have a Tesla vehicle. Free open-source software by xLights programs a light show to perform with any music of your choice, which can then be downloaded onto a USB flash drive to play in your car. You can find that on GitHub, if you’re the type who has any idea how to set that up.
For Tesla owners, the other updates include a simplified look for navigation, five new levels of immersive audio to customize your sound experience, sentry mode live camera access, a new comfort suspension mode for Models S and X, and automatic seat heater functionality for Models 3 and Y. Drivers can also play the original Sonic the Hedgehog game or Sudoku on Tesla Arcade during charging stops, or challenge friends with The Battle of Polytopia in multiplayer mode. The ability to scroll TikTok on the touchscreen is also new.