Just like with smart homes, the more you deck out your car with more smart features, the more valuable and more expensive it becomes. The more valuable it becomes, the more attractive it also becomes for those who might want to take a piece or even the whole thing. As Tesla’s electric cars become more common and more easily identifiable, the more they become tempting targets as well. That’s why Tesla is now introducing a new Sentry Mode security feature that will watch for and alert you of attempted or successful break-ins. Presuming you remember to turn it on first, that is.
It almost sounds like your Tesla will deploy a drone sentry to keep guard, but the car doesn’t really need a separate entity to do that. When Sentry Mode is enabled, it will go into a Standby state where it employs its external cameras, the same ones it uses for assisted driving modes, to play lookout. When a “minimal” threat is detected, it goes into an “Alert” state and displays a message on the touchscreen that says the cameras are recording. For evidence, of course.
If that isn’t enough to deter a clueless criminal and a severe threat, like breaking a window, is detected, the car goes into full-on “Alarm” state. Here, the car alarm is activated, the touchscreen brightness is increased, and music is played at max volume. Of course, it also alerts the owner on their Tesla mobile app.
While Sentry Mode sounds very useful, it does come with some caveats. It can record an incident for later viewing but only if you insert a USB drive into the car before enabling Sentry Mode. The most important consideration, however, is that you have to enable Sentry Mode (from Controls > Safety & Security settings) each and every time they want to use the feature.
Tesla Sentry Mode is rolling out now in the US to Model 3 cars. Model S and Model X vehicles will follow as long as they were built after August 2017. Hopefully, Tesla will find a way to automate Sentry Mode’s activation unless the feature becomes practically useless because of human forgetfulness.