Hot rod culture has been around for as long as car culture. Ever since man found a way to get from point A to point B, we’ve been strapping new things on our cars to get there just a little bit faster. But what if rather than say, swapping out a few belts for an extra 50 horsepower, you just had to modify your car’s software?
That’s apparently what many drivers have been doing to upgrade their Tesla. Rather than shelling out $2000 for the official software update, you could buy a device to unlock that capability for half the price. Unsurprisingly, Tesla is now fighting back.
Those running unauthorized software on their Tesla have been presented with this message(via /u/potato3838 on Reddit):
Apparently the functionality of the car has not been affected beyond the appearance of this notification. But it looks like Tesla is starting to crack down on the use of unauthorized software. And I think that’s a good thing.
Now before the entire right to repair community burns down my house, let me clarify my position. I want to be clear that Tesla limiting the hardware capabilities of their cars is WITHOUT A DOUBT a dick move.
I don’t think we should just lay down and allow Tesla to fully control the functionality of our car. I’ve voiced my concerns with Tesla having too much control over the platform when I talked about rumors of a monthly subscription service for autopilot.
But cars as we know them are changing. And Autopilot is the primary issue. If Tesla is not able to completely secure their software against vulnerabilities, we could start seeing open source, homebrew self driving software on the road. And if there is one thing that could put an end to the self-driving revolution, it would be hordes of DIY self-driving enthusiasts.
It sucks that we can’t modify our cars the same way we used to be able to a few decades ago. For some, it might feel like they don’t really own the car. But cars couldn’t drive themselves a few decades ago. And we need to recognize the need for this software to be locked down so that all self-driving software may be audited and regulated by government agencies. The safety risks provided by vulnerable software are just too great.
But Elon needs to stop being a dick and limiting the capabilities of the cars Tesla sells through software. That’s really just asking hackers to expose vulnerabilities in their software. And as long as drivers have a good reason to hack their car, gaining more performance while saving money, they’re going to do it. If Tesla wasn’t practically baiting the hackers into doing it we probably wouldn’t have this problem to begin with.
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