Tesla to introduce voice-activated gear shifter - SUV VEHICLE

Tesla to introduce voice-activated gear shifter


For drivers who found changing gears on the touchscreen too hard, Tesla plans to further automate its cars with a new “voice-activated” gear selector boasting 100 per cent accuracy.

Tesla electric cars will now be equipped with a voice-activated gear selector claimed to make the user interface even easier for new customers.

It does away with the conventional gear selector – either a stalk on the right side of the steering column, or a slider on the touchscreen, depending on the model – and moves Tesla cars even closer to requiring no driver input to get an owner to their location.

The new tech will be available on every Model Year 2025 Tesla, including the Roadster.

For existing Tesla customers, a software update will be available in October 2024 – pending any delays – which includes instructions on how to unscrew an existing gear selector stalk at home.

“We no longer want to call our customers ‘drivers’ of their Tesla. Since we are moving away from physical input to drive the car, we tend to refer to them as ‘controllers’ instead,” Tesla global communications director Tush Kreen told a three-hour media conference overnight.

Axed: The gear selector in the Model Y.

The set-up process involves a simple 30-minute conversation with your Tesla, during which the assistant will familiarise itself with your voice and speech habits.

Once the voice assistant is set up, owners can select the drive gear by announcing, “Tesla, please select the forward gear in my Model Y.”

However, drivers can customise the feature: “Controllers may want to instead say ‘Go forth my trusty steed’, so we’ve enabled the system to be fully customisable,” Mr Kreen said.

Tesla says drivers will be required to say the model name of their vehicle, and wait five seconds before the gear is selected, to prevent accidental gear changes from routine conversations in the car.

To maintain the accuracy of the voice assistant – and ensure it will continue to function if the driver has a cold – Tesla will make the 30-minute voice detection calibration mandatory every seven days.

“We recommend Tesla owners wait until a Sunday afternoon to set up their voice-activated gear selector to ensure their mid-week work journeys are not interrupted,” said Mr Kreen.

The executive said initial feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive, and denied the new feature was intended to address criticism of the touchscreen-based gear selector in the company’s latest cars.

“We’ve never heard any of our customers say voice assistants are inaccurate. The feedback we’ve seen is all ve–– sorry, that’s Siri going off on my iPhone, give me a second.”

Tesla says it has the utmost confidence in the system will work, and that no back-up is required, as it would just clutter the interior.

The removal of the gear selector is the latest step in Tesla’s plan to sell a fully voice-controlled vehicle.

Attendees also received a sneak peek at some of the other pieces of technology that will make their way onto the Tesla range in 2025, including voice-activated indicators and voice-activated braking.

Further information on the mandatory software update will be announced today at 12:00pm AEDT.

Zane Dobie

Zane Dobie comes from a background of motorcycle journalism, working for notable titles such as Australian Motorcycle News Magazine, Just Bikes and BikeReview. Despite his fresh age, Zane brings a lifetime of racing and hands-on experience. His passion now resides on four wheels as an avid car collector, restorer, drift car pilot and weekend go-kart racer.

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