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. It’s like a dash cam, but better. 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.

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