Maybe Tesla is our only hope

I wrote a “nice but not $100,000+ nice” review of the Tesla X. Back in 2003 I wondered why cars weren’t smart enough to prevent the death of a child or dog locked in on a hot day:

In an age where we spend infinite money and effort on high-tech cures that save a few lives it is a shame to see kids dying for want of a few lines of software and a $50 802.11 base station.

It seems that, 13 years later, Tesla has written the software. “Tesla cars have a new feature that could save your dog’s life” says

With it’s just-released 8.0 software update, Tesla has brought an innovation to the auto industry that enables just that. It’s called “Cabin Overheat Protection.” … “In an industry-first safety measure, we’re also introducing Cabin Overheat Protect, focused on child (and pet) safety,” Tesla said in a statement. “This feature keeps the car at a safe temperature for hours, even when the car is off. This feature is only made possible by an electric vehicle with Tesla’s uniquely large battery packs.”

I guess it is easy to be “industry-first” when your peers can’t or won’t write the most obvious computer programs. So maybe by the time the rest of the automakers pile into the all-electric market it will in fact be too late.


  1. Jack D

    October 14, 2016 @ 1:12 pm


    The Tesla’s giant batteries not withstanding, it would be relatively easy to add autostart to existing gas powered cars to run the climate control (you’d also need a carbon monoxide sensor to be sure you were not in a closed garage). Probably you would start by just cracking the windows a bit and running the cabin fan and then if that didn’t work, then start the engine to run the A/C compressor for a little while, then repeat as necessary. You don’t need the car to be 72 degrees, just cool enough not to kill children and animals. In the mean time, the car would set off the alarm and text the owner and if that didn’t work, eventually call 911. You don’t need a $300/yr. onstar subscription for something like this – I could create a profitable MVNO serving up the necessary (tiny) amount of data for a couple of $ per month. How much do you think that the insurance companies pay per month for the gizmos that spy on you over the cell network? Most cars will never need to phone in an alarm.

    All that being said, only a small segment of the population has small children or dogs – I don’t care if my car is 150 degrees inside because no one is in it. I also know that most people who do this with children are normal people who are not drunk or on drugs but just distracted but I would bet my life that I would never in a million years have forgotten one of my precious children.

  2. J. Peterson

    October 14, 2016 @ 2:14 pm


    I suspect this feature gets permanently disabled when you park your Tesla in the sun for a day in the beach, only to find your (pleasantly cool!) car doesn’t have enough juice left to get home.

  3. jerry

    October 14, 2016 @ 2:54 pm


    Reduce false positives and low battery with cabin directed motion detector, audio detectors, camera (ie nothing a android phone can’t do), smarter seats that detect weight and motion, C02 detectors recognizing internal C02 increase, and either or both a car alarm and a phone connection similar to OnStar.

    I mean, hell, if my car thinks my kid is inside and either the temps going up or it’s been more than 7 minutes, I kind of want the car to start screaming to someone, anyone!

  4. jack crossfire

    October 14, 2016 @ 3:12 pm


    Car makers have been working on the problem forever. Even though the Tesla manetains 100F, the 1 year endurance provided by Musk is a bit optimistic & depends on the ambient temperature. It probably uses too much power to always have it on, every time you drive to work. Imagine all the parking lots of Arizona filled with empty cars running their air conditioners all day. Then there’s the cost of replacing the hepa filter because it’s running all day. Maybe it would be useful for preserving the upholstery.

  5. Jack D

    October 14, 2016 @ 3:53 pm


    I assume upholstery damage is mostly from the sun and not the heat per se.

  6. Billg

    October 14, 2016 @ 6:00 pm


    I’d rather have my car text me a message saying “hey it’s your car, it’s hot inside me and I think there is an animal/person inside”.

  7. bobbybobbob

    October 14, 2016 @ 11:56 pm


    Pet dogs should be taxed out of existence because of the carbon emissions. The payments can be transferred directly to elon musk.

  8. Isaac

    October 17, 2016 @ 3:23 am


    Given how many states and municipalities actively empower and encourage citizens to break into a car to free a trapped pet/dog, I’d be downright terrified to leave a pet or kid in a car alone for even 10 seconds, even on a 50 degree (Fahrenheit) day, for risk of losing my car’s windows and having Animal Control and/or Child Welfare called on me.

    I think it’s a nice idea, but unless the general public is aware that Tesla cars have this feature, their windows are going to get broken like every other car, regardless of whether the living beings are safe in the car or not.

  9. Sam

    October 18, 2016 @ 1:14 am


    Carmaker already had the problem solved… You put your kid in the front seat where you could see him.

    Now you put them in the oven because it’s safer..don’t forget to take him out of the oven!

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