Tesla CEO Elon Musk may have his own super-secret driving mode that enables hands-free driving in Tesla vehicles.
The hidden feature, aptly named “Elon Mode”, was discovered by a Tesla software hacker known online as @greentheonly. The anonymous hacker spent years digging deep into the vehicle code, discovering things like how Tesla can bar you from using your power seats or the center camera in the Model 3 before it was officially activated.
After finding and enabling Elon Mode, greentheonly ventured to test the system and posted some raw images of the endeavor. They didn’t share the literal “Elon Mode” setting on screen, but claimed it’s real.
The hacker found that the car did not require any attention from them while using Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) software. FSD is Tesla’s vision-based advanced driver assistance system that is in beta, but currently available to anyone who paid as much as $15,000 for the option. The software was the subject of an internally leaked report last month that indicated that FSD has had thousands of customer complaints about sudden braking and abrupt acceleration.
Tesla’s Autopilot system, the automaker’s first-generation highway driver assistance system, requires you to touch the steering wheel to confirm you’re paying attention while using it. Owners often complain about the frequency of the system’s checks, leading some to call it “nagging.” FSD users are also subject to the frequent nudges, and sometimes it seems to require enough force to unintentionally shut down the system.
In addition to the existing hands-on handlebar mount, vehicles with a central interior camera (above the rear-view mirror) will observe drivers to make sure they’re looking ahead – but that’s also pretty finicky. For example, I’ve found I can’t wear a baseball cap without the system constantly nagging me to “watch the road,” seemingly unable to tell my eyes to look ahead. It even turned off at one point and said I would lose my FSD privileges if I did it four more times.
But for those of greentheonly test of nearly 600 miles on Elon Mode they found no such nagging. The test was conducted in what the hacker said was a company vehicle, based on their comment that they “couldn’t get a non-Tesla car” to try in Elon mode. In the video, it looks like greentheonly is driving an early Model X, which in particular could be old enough to have no camera on the inside at all. It’s not clear if this model has the camera or how green has been given the sole access to the car.
Greentheonly provides under the notes the Twitter thread, the hacker states that the system still seems to randomly change lanes and eventually slow down on the highway. Whether this version of FSD will be available to regular owners is unknown. In December, Musk hinted that nag-free driving is coming.
Greentheonly adds that Tesla’s software is more secure than ever compared to 2017 when the hacker first started inspecting it. Despite their ability to consistently bypass Tesla’s security, greentheonly tweet that the level of care Tesla puts into its software is rare compared to other cars they’ve touched, and it’s a “fun puzzle that keeps getting better.”