Tesla's fixes feature that lets drivers blast farts from exterior speakers after it was found to break federal safety rules

·2 min read
Tesla Model S interior
Tesla Model S.Tesla
  • Tesla agreed to disable its Boombox feature when a vehicle is in drive, neutral, or reverse.

  • The feature lets drivers blast goat noises and other custom sounds outside the vehicle.

  • Tesla is updating the feature because it could drown out the pedestrian warning sounds required by law.

Tesla will beam a software update to 578,607 vehicles after acknowledging that its Boombox feature — which lets drivers blast various sounds outside their vehicle — does not comply with US safety regulations.

Boombox, introduced as part of a holiday software update in December 2020, lets drivers swap out their normal horn honk for sounds like a goat, La Cucaracha, or a custom song clip. And yes, one of the preset options is the most hilarious of all sounds: the fart.

The problem is those farts could drown out the pedestrian warning noises required in every electric and hybrid vehicle, potentially increasing the risk of a crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The federal government requires that hybrid and electric cars emit some sort of sound at low speeds so pedestrians can hear them coming. This usually manifests as some kind of high-pitched whining or whirring noise. It's required because electric cars are so much quieter than their internal combustion counterparts.

After going back and forth with regulators over whether Boombox could interfere with Tesla's pedestrian warning system, the company agreed to recall the feature and issue a fix remotely. After the update, Boombox will be disabled when a vehicle is in drive, reverse, or neutral.

In a filing with NHTSA this week, Tesla said that "Boombox can enhance the conspicuity of the vehicle to pedestrians" — a pedestrian might look up if they were crossing the street and heard, for instance, the sound of farts getting louder and louder. Still, it acknowledged that regulations prohibit manufacturers from "altering or modifying the sound-emitting capability of the pedestrian warning system."

Under increased government scrutiny, Tesla has issued several recalls in recent months. Tesla generally can fix issues remotely through software updates.

Read the original article on Business Insider