Improved parking chimes: Directional sound and volume to signify proximity
September 3, 2021
By Nuno C.
I'm sure I've said this before, but one of the amazing things about Teslas is that just about every item in the car is run through a software layer. For example, instead of the ultrasonic sensors being wired directly to the car's audio system to produce a tone when an object is in close proximity , the sensors are plugged up to a hub or motherboard, which then is completely software controlled. One of the many inputs are the ultrasonic sensors, and outputs are individual speakers, display, turn signals, headlights, ambient lights etc.
This gives Tesla a great amount of flexibility. Nothing is set in stone. If Tesla wanted, they could make your ambient lights become brighter the closer an object was to the ultrasonic sensors. In fact, this is what gives Tesla the ability to let out a fart noise every time you use your turn signals in Tesla's Emissions Testing Mode.
We're now hearing that Elon agrees that they can do a better job with parking chimes. Currently Tesla displays a nice visualization in the car when an object is close to the ultrasonic sensors. The car will display an arc around the area of the car that the object is close to. The color of the arc is dependent on the distance of the object. The arc will change from gray to orange and red, all in a very fluid way. The vehicle will even display the distance of the object in inches or centimeters. The visualizations are great.
What's not so great, or rather is more on par with what other vehicles provide are the chimes that the car makes when encountering an object. The car produces slightly annoying chimes, akin to unfastened seat belt sounds when coming close to an object. The sound is roughly the same volume until you get very close.
Someone on Twitter suggested that Tesla improve the proximity sensors chimes to better match the great visualization Tesla already provides. They suggested that Tesla project the sound directionally based on the location of the object. They also mentioned that the volume should be an indicator for the distance of the object and the sound should be something other than chimes.
It's a great suggestion that has been suggested before, but Elon Musk actually responded to this particular suggestion. Elon either more strongly agrees with this suggestion now, or Tesla is or will be looking into this feature in the future.
Tesla has the ability to control each of the speakers in the car individually, so it would actually be amazing if Tesla could decode surround sound directly in the car. Tesla would then be able to encode sounds in a surround sound format and directional sound in the car.
Good point, agreed.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 31, 2021
This could be used for a variety of features where directional sound is advantageous such as the parking chimes, turn signals, emergency braking and even the ability to watch Netflix and other streaming services in surround sound. After all, you already have a surround sound setup in your car, all we need is the software.