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Tesla adding in-car Atari games, a party mode, and an improved Autopilot

© Miles Branman/Digital Trends © Miles Branman/Digital Trends
By Ronan Glon


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Tesla Model 3
Miles Branman/Digital Trends

Tesla is turning its cars into gaming devices. The firm’s next software update will add, among other features, at least three classic Atari games passengers will be able to play on the dash-mounted touchscreen. The update is coming soon to the Model 3, the Model S, and the Model X.

Staying true to tradition, company co-founder and CEO Elon Musk made the announcement on his personal Twitter page. His initial message didn’t list the games; it merely said his team received permission from Atari to include the games in the next version of the infotainment system, which is called V9.0. Quizzed by journalists, he revealed he hopes to include Pole Position, Tempest, and Missile Command, games released in 1982, 1981, and 1980, respectively.

Pole Position, an early racing simulator, will be linked to the steering wheel. Musk stressed the function will only work when the car is parked. Passengers will presumably play Tempest and Missile Command by tapping the touchscreen though, again, odds are the car will need to be off (or at least in park).

In a later Tweet, Musk asked video game developers to apply for a job at Tesla. He explained the company wants to make “super-fun games” that integrate the center touchscreen, the user’s phone, and the car in real-life situations. It’s too early to tell whether the V9.0 update will include a game developed in-house.

V9.0 could add the promised party and camper mode. Details remain scarce, but Musk envisions a mode that uses the electricity stored in the battery pack to power the climate control system, some of the lights, and the sound system for 48 hours or more. It would also allow the car to charge mobile devices. This mode would draw a considerable amount of power from the battery pack so users would need to ensure they’re parked next to a charging station or are not far from one.

While Atari games represent the highlight of V9.0, the update will include other important features outside of the infotainment system including what Musk calls full self-driving features for certain vehicles. This bolsters (but doesn’t confirm) earlier rumors claiming the next version of Autopilot will transition into a level-three system, meaning the driver will be able to take his or her hands off the wheel completely when the right conditions are met. Audi’s Traffic Jam Assist technology is an example of a level-three system. The Autopilot interface will evolve with the update, too.

Tesla owners will begin to receive V9.0 through an over-the-air software update in about four weeks, so we’ll learn more about the software throughout August. Musk wrote he hopes to include three games “in this release,” meaning more games could appear in later releases. How about Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong?


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