Tesla's new dashcam honk feature gets tested with a flying hammer

Jonathon Ramsey



Tesla sent a "Holiday Software Update" to owners just before Christmas that included a haul of tech upgrades and features. Included were hard-news features like the improved Tesla Neural Net for identifying traffic lights and signs and rendering road marking and vehicles, convenience additions like more voice commands and hands-free launching of applications, entertainment options like Twitch streaming and support for farming sim "Stardew Valley" expanding Tesla Theater, and the Easter egg Camp Mode. There was also an unusual safety feature included — the ability to automatically save a dashcam video clip by honking the horn. The idea for that novelty apparently occurred to a Twitter user going by the handle "Brandon HW2.5Bernicky." In November, Brandon asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk via tweet, "Thoughts on saving dashcam footage when honking the horn?" Musk replied, "Yeah, makes sense." Six weeks later, it's a real thing.

 


The new software began rolling out December 24. On December 28, a YouTube video revealed what could be one of the first real-world applications of honk-and-save. Picked up by Inside EVs, and as narrated by the YouTube channel Tesla Revolution, a two-minute clip from a Model 3 dashcam shows a driver minding his own business in the middle lane of a three-lane highway. After a taxi passes the Model 3 on the left, the taxi runs over a hammer that looks to have been left on the road, presumably after falling off a work truck. The hammer skitters down the road a bit, then takes a huge hop and flies into the Model 3's windshield. As Tesla Revolution tells it, the only reason we have the footage is because the Model 3 driver honked the horn.

Thankfully, the hammer only bounced off the windshield and no one in the Tesla was hurt. However, the tool did leave an autograph in the form of a spider web of cracks almost square in the middle of the glass. No matter what the driver decides to do, a simple toot gives him the footage so that everyone, insurance and authorities included, can deal appropriately with the aftermath. This feature gets two thumbs up.