Tesla has been under fire for a rash of break-ins to the Tesla Model 3, but now the company is firing back with an upgrade to the security system that will be pushed down to the deployed fleet by way of a software update.
The new Sentry Mode taps into the existing exterior cameras on the vehicle to continuously monitor its surroundings for threats in Standby mode. If the system detects a threat, like someone leaning on the car, it moves from a passive standby state into Alert mode. The increase in security level triggers the car to display a message on the in-car display that notifies people near the car that the cameras are rolling.
If any other actions are taken, like a window being broken or a thief attempting to steal the car, the car goes full on bananas over the event and turns everything up to 11 in a bid to ward off the attackers. For starters, the car does indeed have a recording of footage from the car. It saves the last 10 minutes of footage prior to the event onboard, which can be extracted by the owner by inserting a USB drive into the car.
As would be expected, the alert sets off the car alarm and sends a notification to the owner via the Tesla app. To increase the visual profile of the car, it cranks up the brightness on the center console (imagine a bright phone in a dark movie theater) to brighten up the space. This also provides some nice studio lighting for whatever miscreants are in the car attempting to remove your valuables as they are caught on camera.
The icing on top comes from the audio system as the car cranks the volume up to 11 and blasts music. I’m hoping that it blasts the “Cops” theme song, or maybe just some outrageously aggressive Pantera to really scare the pants off whoever is in there. Bonus points if the song makes the intruders pucker up just a bit before they roll out of the car. I’m sure 9 times out of 10 the alarm goes off in my car, it will be me setting it off after waking up from a power nap.
The new Sentry Mode adds a very dynamic and active safety system that will give owners more peace of mind as they run errands, grab a meal, or get a night’s rest. I know I will appreciate the extra layer of security when I’m out and about in my car.
It will be interesting to see if the feature increases the vampire drain on the car. It is clearly incremental power usage, but will it be noticeable? Also, the capability to upload the video to the cloud would make the solution much more durable in the event that the car was actually stolen.
The Tesla Model 3 just keeps getting better as Tesla keeps pushing more features out to the car. When I picked mine up ~7 months ago, it did not have a dashcam, Sentry mode, video games, a fireplace, or Fart Mode for that matter.
The full release from Tesla’s Blog about Sentry Mode is below. It will not show up on cars overnight, but expect it to trickle down to owners over the next few days or weeks.
Sentry Mode: Guarding Your Tesla
February 13, 2019
According to federal statistics, there was an estimated one motor vehicle theft or attempted theft every 40.8 seconds in the United States in 2017 — and that doesn’t even include the vast number of car break-ins that happen nationwide. To further enhance the security of our vehicles and give our customers additional peace of mind, today we’re starting to roll out a new safeguard — Sentry Mode — to protect against break-ins and theft.
Sentry Mode adds a unique layer of protection to Tesla vehicles by continuously monitoring 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.
If a car switches to “Alarm” state, owners will also receive an alert from their Tesla mobile app notifying them that an incident has occurred. They’ll be able to download a video recording of an incident (which begins 10 minutes prior to the time a threat was detected) by inserting a formatted USB drive into their car before they enable Sentry Mode.
Sentry Mode must be enabled each time a driver wants to use the feature by going to Controls > Safety & Security > Sentry Mode. The feature will begin rolling out today to U.S. Model 3 vehicles, followed by Model S and Model X vehicles that were built after August 2017.
While no alarm system can prevent against all vehicle thefts, break-ins and threats, we hope that with Sentry Mode and our other security features, your Tesla will be even more secure.