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Tesla update lets drivers turn their cars into megaphones

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Taking advantage of newer models’ external speakers

A visitor tests and sits in a Tesla model S at the American... Photo by Chukrut Budrul/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As part of its annual holiday software update, Tesla has released a new feature that lets drivers turn their cars into megaphones.

The update was spotted by Electrek, which reports that it’s only available in newer Tesla models (2019 or later). This is because the feature uses external speakers that were installed in recent Tesla vehicles to meet US regulations. These regulations stipulate that otherwise silent electric cars should be able to alert pedestrians to their presence at low speeds.

A video of the feature (below) captures these external speakers repeating everything the driver says with a slight delay and an echo-y, bass-heavy distortion. It’s not clear if this distortion can be changed or removed.

It’s not the first creative use Tesla has found for its cars’ external speakers. A Boombox mode introduced in last year’s holiday update let owners replace the default horn sound with any custom audio clip, while Sentry Mode, which lets owners stream live footage from the cars’ external cameras, also includes a remote audio function.

As well as adding new functionality to its cars, Tesla recently said it would be removing a feature that let drivers play video games while driving. A megaphone, presumably, is less of a distraction than Super Breakout.