How does one even respond to a talking Tesla?
Ever the disruptive company, Tesla, Inc. is preparing to grant its vehicles with a new skill: the ability to talk - not just to vehicle occupants, but to people outside the car, too. Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, tweeted about the forthcoming feature over the weekend, including a short video clip that depicts a Tesla Model 3 speaking in clear English to anyone within earshot.
"Well don't just stand there staring. Hop in," the car can be heard saying, before appearing to ask: "Have you practiced that expression long?"
Yup, that's strange.
The feature is likely made possible by the speaker that Tesla has had to install in the front end of the Model 3 in order to comply with new regulations in the US and European Union, which require that "quiet vehicles" - those that emit no internal combustion engine noise under certain conditions - come equipped with audible pedestrian alert devices. From there, allowing the Tesla Model 3 to speak directly to onlookers was just a hop and a skip away.
Beyond enabling easy, single-button pedestrian harassment, the feature might also come in handy should someone fail to recognize the Model 3's low-speed alert noise. It could also have practical applications within the context of ride-hailing or delivery services, perhaps allowing the car to call out to a customer, for example.
It's worth noting that Tesla plans to launch the autonomous Tesla Network ride-hailing service sometime this year; knowing that, it seems entirely likely that the Model 3's directive to "get in" previews an actual, real-life use case for the technology.
Then again, we're talking about a carmaker that released a real, honest-to-goodness "fart app" as an Easter Egg back in 2018, so it's possible that the feature isn't even necessarily intended to be practical. In that case, more power to them. We guess.