Flying cars may not be a common reality yet, but car technology is rapidly advancing. Tesla’s electric cars are some of the most sophisticated, thanks to their all-electric design being developed at a startup-like pace.
Unless you’ve been paying close attention, you might not realize Tesla’s vehicles have some very advanced features now available now. Many sound improbable or science fiction-esque. Let’s take a look.
Tesla’s Autopilot is one of its most publicized features because designers believe it is the basis for achieving autonomous driving.
How it works: Multiple cameras on the exterior of the cars monitor lane lines and other vehicles, and other sensors enable auto-steering as well automatically speeding up and slowing down. On the highway, where Autopilot is meant to be used, the car feels almost like its driving itself.
Summon is available as part of the Autopilot package (generally a $5,000 premium add-on). It allows the driver to use a smartphone app to move the car forward or backward about 40 feet.
How it works: You can stand outside the car and connect to it using the Tesla mobile app. Holding down “forward” or “reverse,” the car will use its cameras and sensors to move in that direction until you let go or it senses something in its way. Summon moves the car at 1-2 mph and is intended to move the vehicle in and out of tight garage spaces
3. Video games
It’s not often you hear a car has video games built into its center console, but as of Tesla’s V9 (version 9) software update, Atari games are now available. The games are accessible by the driver or front seat passenger while in park.
How it works: On the giant touchscreens, Tesla cars have an Easter egg section which hides a few neat tricks. In that hidden, on screen area you can access three classic Atari games: Missile Command, Pole Position, and Tempest.
4. Navigate on Autopilot
Navigate on Autopilot advances the basic (already high-tech) feature even more. It will let the car enable Autopilot automatically getting on the highway, based on the navigation maps data.
How it works: If you use the on-board navigation maps, the car will take over driving as you turn onto a highway. It will also change lanes on its own if the traffic in your lane is going slower than your settings. The car will exit the highway automatically and return control to the driver. (Currently the system doesn’t recognize stop lights or stop signs!) The cars are getting better at recognizing construction areas, though you should definitely be watching for those.
5. Web browsing
All Tesla cars have a web browser built into the touch-screen center navigation console.
How it works: You can browse websites, just like you do on your phone or tablet. Before you get too excited, no, YouTube and Netflix websites don’t work. Because Tesla has been footing the cellular connection bill, the browser doesn’t support audio or video players. The web browser does work while the car is driving – presumably for passenger use.
6. Cellular service
Speaking of cellular service, for the first eight years of its existence, Tesla provided cellular internet connection to each car for free. Starting in mid-2018 it began charging $100 a year for that service, which is provided by AT&T.
How it works: Tesla regularly updates each car’s software easily via the guaranteed internet connection. That net connectivity also enables streaming music and navigation maps.
7. GPS location
The Tesla app enables the global positioning system, allowing each car’s location to be tracked.
How it works: The GPS location is for Big Brother purposes: Beyond viewing the vehicle on a map, the GPS transmitters can automatically open programmed garage doors at precise locales like driveways. They sensors can even use GPS to set a location to start charging the car at a certain time. For example, when the vehicle in the garage, charging will commence after midnight when electricity rates are lower. If a car is equipped with air suspension, it can also auto-raise or lower the car at a certain locations to avoid scraping a curb.
8. Built-in dash cam
The V9 software upgrade enables the use of the forward-facing camera as a dash cam while you’re driving.
How it works: If you plug a USB flash drive into the front port, it allows the front camera to record, on loop, what it sees. This feature is typically helpful for insurance reasons, perhaps proving fault in the case of an accident. When the dash cam is enabled, an icon appears on screen; when pressed, the video clip can be saved to a storage device.