Elon Musk says Tesla is “fixing” a problem with its “Dog Mode” feature, which keeps pups cool while owners step away from the company’s cars, after a Twitter user discovered a way to inadvertently turn the feature off.
Rahul Sood tweeted late Wednesday that he had turned Dog Mode on, tweaked the fan settings, and then left his seven-month-old Boxer pup in his Tesla Model X. When he later opened his Tesla app, though, I've discovered – to his “horror,” he wrote – that the car's interior temperature had jumped to 85 degrees because Dog Mode had turned off. I've returned to the car to find his dog was okay, and then tweeted about the incident to both Musk and Tesla, and the CEO (who often solicits suggestions on Twitter) quickly responded: "Fixing …"
Dog Mode was rolled out in February as an extension of Tesla’s “Cabin Overheat Protection” mode, which automatically cooled the cabin if it reached high temperatures in order to keep “babies or pets” safe, according to Musk. Dog Mode is a more proactive setting that the owner can choose. It automatically keeps the interior temperature cool and puts a message on the car’s touchscreen to tell passersby that the dogs are okay, and that their “owner will be back soon.”
Dog Mode is activated through the fan settings on Tesla’s touchscreens. Sood tells The verge that the problem arose because, after activating Dog Mode, he then manually adjusted the fan setting to try to keep the car even cooler, since Seattle (where the incident took place) is in the middle of a heat wave. He said he kept monitoring his car through Tesla’s smartphone app, and says Dog Mode remained on at first.
But after about 10 minutes, I've noticed the temperature had jumped, because “basically the AC stops working in Dog Mode if you adjust the fan,” he writes. “Probably an easy fix but if I wasn’t watching him it would have been horrible.”
Tesla is often lauded for adding new abilities to its cars with over-the-air software updates, from new driver assistance modes to video games and convenience features like Dog Mode. (And for what it’s worth, Sood says “the fact that the CEO responded as quickly as he did is pretty awesome.”) Not all of these rollouts go smoothly, like when Tesla had to pull the classic Atari game Pole position from its cars because it hadn’t properly secured the rights. But the company is typically more careful with features that can put lives in danger, like how it recently delayed the release of an automatic parking mode called "Enhanced Summon."
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment. It’s not clear when the company will roll out the fix Musk referred to.