Tesla's CEO Showcases How EVs Will Talk to Pedestrians

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【Summary】Tesla continues to push the envelope with its electric cars, as CEO Elon Musk claims that its vehicles will be able to talk to pedestrians – if that’s what the driver wants.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Jan 18, 2020 6:00 AM PT
Tesla's CEO Showcases How EVs Will Talk to Pedestrians

Say what you will about Tesla, but the electric automaker continually pushes the envelope for automotive technology. First, there was Autopilot, then there was Summon, an innovative way for a Tesla to come to you instead of having you go to your vehicle. Now, Tesla's CEO Elon Musk claims that the electric vehicles will be able to talk to pedestrians, as long as drivers want that to happen.

Talking To Pedestrians Coming Soon

Musk took to Twitter to tweet about the new ability. "Teslas will soon talk to people if you want. This is real," said Musk. While that makes it sound like Tesla's electric vehicles will be able to hold a conversation with a pedestrian, that's far from the case. Instead, the new function is more of a way to just make statements to pedestrians.

In the video that Musk included with the Tweet, a Model 3 can be heard saying, "Well, don't just stand there staring, hop in." So, it doesn't exactly sound like a safety feature, but more of a funny little joke. There's a possibility that Tesla could find a way to make this a safety feature in the future, though. Automakers are currently researching ways for vehicles to "talk" to pedestrians, though the majority of them are going down the route of having signals or lights with symbols instead of actual words.

Having its electric vehicles talk to pedestrians isn't a difficult thing for Tesla to incorporate into its cars. As mandated by the federal government, electric cars have to emit a sound when moving. Currently, the Model 3 has an audio speaker that's located just below the front bumper. Beyond playing an electric noise when the car's in motion, the speaker can also be used to do exactly what's happening here, talk to someone passing by.

Real-World Applications

Sure, it's all fun and games for the moment, but there's a real possibility that this could be incorporated in a safe manner for real-world applications. It could be used to tell people to back away, tell pedestrians that you're going to be turning right at a light, tell someone you're carpooling with that they should get in the car, or tell a pedestrian that's crossing the road that you have the right of way.

We're interested to learn more about the system. In the video, it clearly sounds like a prerecorded message is being played. We're not sure if Tesla will have multiple prerecorded messages for drivers to choose from or have a speaker system that will allow drivers to say whatever they want, similar to a megaphone. Tesla told CNET's Roadshow that Musk's tweet "is the extent of what we're sharing right now," but Musk did previously say that Teslas would be able to "fart in [pedestrians'] general direction" down the road.

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