Tesla’s Dog Mode lets good Samaritans know that Fido’s A-OK

Tesla Dog Mode

Tesla again demonstrated the convenience of its over-the-air software updating system by adding two useful features designed to keep valuables safe — and that includes man’s best friend. Compatible cars started receiving what the company refers to as Sentry Mode and Dog Mode in February.

According to company co-founder and CEO Elon Musk, Sentry Mode turns the eight cameras installed in late-model Tesla vehicles into eight security guards. They detect when someone gets too close to the car (whether it’s another motorist hitting it in a parking lot or a thief breaking in) and react accordingly. If Sentry Mode identifies a minor threat, like someone leaning against the car, it immediately displays a message on the central screen to warn the potential intruder that cameras are recording his or her every move. If it identifies a major threat, like someone breaking a window, it increases the display’s brightness, sounds the car’s alarm, and plays music at maximum volume.

What kind of music? You’ll know it when you hear it.

The software will blast Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor when it detects a break-in, according to Musk. He added — perhaps jokingly, perhaps not — that it will occasionally play the heavy metal version of the song.

Tesla owners will receive a push notification from the company’s mobile app if Sentry Mode detects a major threat. They’ll be able to record footage of the incident by inserting a formatted USB drive into the car before they enable the feature. Tesla notes that Sentry Mode needs to be turned on manually each time motorists want to use it; it doesn’t automatically turn on after drivers park the car and lock the doors.

The Dog Mode traces its roots to Twitter. Tesla owner Josh Atchley asked Musk for the function in October 2018. He requested a feature that lets owners keep the radio and the air conditioning on even when the car is off so that they can safely leave their dog in the cabin. Pedestrians not up to date on Tesla news might be tempted to break a window to rescue the pooch, so he added the car’s display screen — which is massive in the Model 3 — should display an easy-to-read message that says “my owner will be right back” and provides the interior temperature. Musk responded with a “yes” and swiftly got to work. His team delivered exactly what Atchley requested.

Owners can access dog mode by tapping the fan icon at the bottom of the touchscreen. Keeping the climate control system turned on drains the battery pack, so owners will receive a notification on their phone if their car dips below a 20 percent charge. Keep in mind Dog Mode doesn’t give your beagle a place to relieve itself, and it doesn’t feed it or give it water.

The Model 3 started receiving Sentry Mode on February 13. Owners of a Model X or a Model S built after August 2017 will get it a little bit later. The company is taking more time to roll out Dog Mode to make sure there are no issues with the software, according to a Twitter message posted by Musk. Tesla hasn’t revealed which cars it will be compatible with. We’ve reached out to the company, and we’ll update the story when we hear back.

Updated on February 14, 2019: Added full details about Dog Mode and Sentry Mode.

Cars

Audi taught cars to talk to traffic lights, and they’re set to be even chattier

Audi started teaching its cars the language of traffic lights in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2016, and it has continued to expand the reach of this technology ever since.
Cars

Consumer Reports bumps the Tesla Model 3 off of its list of recommended models

The Tesla Model 3 is one of the six new cars that have lost their coveted Recommended rating from Consumer Reports over reliability concerns. In 2018, Model 3 owners reported body trim falling off and problems with the car's glass.
Cars

Tesla will release fully self-driving cars in 2019 — with a big asterisk

Tesla reaffirmed its goal of releasing a fully self-driving car by the end of 2019, but it warned the system won't work perfectly 100 percent of the time. Convincing regulators that it's safe to use will require some effort, too.
Cars

Audi is advancing the tech that teaches cars to talk to traffic lights

Audi is teaching its cars the language of traffic lights. The company developed technology that tells motorists what speed they should drive at in order to catch as many green lights as possible.
Cars

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.
Cars

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.
Cars

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.
Cars

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.
Cars

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…
Cars

Mercedes lets the sun shine in one last time with SLC Final Edition convertible

The Mercedes-Benz SLC convertible sports car is going out of production. Launched in 1996 as the SLK, the model has been a fixture in the Mercedes-Benz lineup across three generations.
Cars

Aston Martin’s next hypercar, due in 2021, will pack a hybrid powertrain punch

Aston Martin will follow up the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro with a new hypercar, code-named Project 003. The car will debut in 2021, with production limited to 500 units worldwide.
Cars

Apple opens up about its self-driving car program in letter to NHTSA

Apple has traditionally kept details about its self-driving car technology under wraps, but it has revealed details about the program in a rare instance of openness. The company takes safety seriously.
Cars

Lyft’s Shared Saver service offers cheaper rides, but you’ll have to walk a little

Lyft has launched a new ride option called Shared Saver that offers cheaper rides if you're willing to walk a little. Shared Saver designates a nearby pick-up point and drops you off a short distance from your final destination.
Cars

Has Apple rebooted its self-driving car program to develop autonomous vans?

The on-again, off-again Apple car is back on track, but it's not a sedan or a hatchback. It will arrive as an electric, autonomous passenger-carrying van, according to a recent report.