In a nutshell: Tesla cars are packed with unconventional features, and they’ll soon receive another that could make the EVs the closest thing we have to a real-life KITT from Knight Rider—the ability to “talk” to pedestrians.
Tesla boss Elon Musk posted a short video on Twitter demonstrating the feature, which he says will arrive soon. “Telsas will soon talk to people if you want,” tweeted the CEO.
In the clip, we see a Tesla driving past the camera while it plays: “Well, don’t just stand there staring, hop in.” It’s likely that the cars will use the external speaker grill that was added to the Model 3 to comply with sound requirements in the US and EU—the vehicle plays a noise when it’s moving below 19mph to alert pedestrians.
Teslas will soon talk to people if you want. This is real. pic.twitter.com/8AJdERX5qa— Buff Mage (@elonmusk) 12 January 2020
We still don’t know exactly how the feature will work. Users could record their own audio clips, or it may come with pre-recorded sounds that play either automatically or are activated by the driver.
The feature does seem like a bit of a jokey addition—Musk added that it would integrate with fart mode, letting you send gas sounds in people’s general direction, Monty Python-style. But it could have its uses, such as alerting pedestrians who are in the way or letting someone know the car has arrived, which would be helpful for Uber drivers. It will also work with Sentry Mode, which automatically records people vandalizing a parked Tesla—maybe it’ll inform criminals they’re being recorded and should stop.