Elon Musk: Tesla Cars Will Soon Talk to Pedestrians, Provides K.I.T.T.-Style Video
If a Tesla could talk, what would it say?
Tesla's eager-to-always-promise-more CEO Elon Musk tweeted this weekend "Teslas will soon talk to people if you want. This is real." Let's unpack that bombshell.
First off, it's not really what it sounds like. No, you won't be able to carry on a conversation with your Tesla in the near future. Instead, the car will use verbal statements to communicate with pedestrians nearby. Currently, the automaker's Model 3 electric sedan includes an audio speaker mounted beneath the front bumper, which plays a Jetsons-style electronic noise when the vehicle is traveling slowly forward or backward. It's to alert humans nearby that the otherwise nearly silent car is on and maneuvering.
In Elon Musk's weekend tweet, included below, he included a video of a red Model 3 pulling out of a parking lot while apparently playing some audio from the '80s TV show Knight Rider: "Well don't just stand there staring—hop in!" (Youngsters: The show starred K.I.T.T., a sentient Pontiac that could talk.) Again, what Tesla seems to be proposing here isn't a modern, real-life K.I.T.T.; rather, the "talking Tesla" will be little more than a four-wheeled device whose utterances are more creative than whirring noises and are automated based on context.
If car is moving slowly, it will play a given soundtrack that may or may not have talking involved. If the car is moving faster, the talking goes away. Perhaps further down the road, Teslas might be capable of engaging in casual banter with people nearby, but that doesn't seem to be what Musk is sniffing at here. At least, we hope it isn't…