Tesla has officially released two features for its electric vehicles aimed at protecting what owners love: their car and pets, as the company looks to leverage its ability to deliver a continuous stream of new capabilities via over-the-air software updates.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been tweeting about these two features, known as Dog mode and Sentry mode for weeks. And now, they’re here for electric vehicles equipped with Enhanced Autopilot and built after August 2017.
Dog mode is meant to accomplish two things: keep dogs, or perhaps a hamster or cat, in a climate-controlled environment, if left unattended in a vehicle, and let passersby know their status.
This should be confused with Tesla’s Cabin Overheat Prevention feature, which when active, “prevents the interior temperature from exceeding 105F/40C for up to 12 hours after you exit your vehicle.”
Dog Mode does — and should — allow for owners to adjust the temperature because cabin overheat protection shouldn’t be used if anyone is in the car — kids or pets.
To enable Dog Mode, owners tap the fan icon at the bottom of the touchscreen when their car is parked. Owners push “Keep Climate On to DOG, and then make adjustments within temperature limits. “Dog Mode will stay on after you leave your car. If you your battery reaches less than 20% charge, you will receive a notification on your mobile app,” according to the software update information.
The screen display is also new. In the video below, the screen shows the interior temperature of the vehicle and a message that reads “my owner will be back soon.”
Depending on state and local laws, it doesn’t matter if a dog is sitting in an air conditioned environment. And the feature could be abused or simply misused. Leaving animals unattended in vehicles for extended periods of time, even with the temperature controlled, is never a great idea, particularly in certain environments and seasons.
Sentry mode is a bit more involved. Tesla said in a blog post Wednesday that “Sentry mode” will continuously monitor the environment around a car when it’s left unattended.
When enabled, Sentry Mode enters a “Standby” state, like many home alarm systems, which uses the car’s external cameras to detect potential threats. If a minimal threat is detected, such as someone leaning on a car, Sentry Mode switches to an “Alert” state and displays a message on the touchscreen warning that its cameras are recording.
If a more severe threat is detected, such as someone breaking a window, Sentry Mode switches to an “Alarm” state, which activates the car alarm, increases the brightness of the center display, and plays music at maximum volume from the car’s audio system.
Owners will receive an alert on their Tesla app if the car switches to “alarm state,” according to the company. And because sentry mode taps into the built-in forward-facing cameras as a dash cam, owners can download a video recording of an incident. The downloadable recording begins 10 minutes prior to the time a threat was detected, Tesla said.
Sentry mode is rolling out Wednesday to U.S. Model 3 vehicles, followed by Model S and Model X vehicles that were built after August 2017.
In October, Tesla released version 9.0 of its software, which featured a number of updates, including a new UI on the center display and the ability to use the forward-facing camera. The dash cam feature is available only in Tesla vehicles built after August 2017.