Tesla Model 3's Sentry Mode Camera Has Built-In Heater to Melt Snow When It's Parked
The small heating element melts away snow to ensure the car always has eyes on its surroundings.
Teslas are known for their interesting—sometimes gimmicky—features that set them apart from other cars. Stuff like digital whoopee cushions on the seats, video games playable in the center console using the car's steering wheel, and "Dog Mode," a setting that keeps your pet safer when left in a car unattended. Some aren't super useful, but others truly are, such as the small heated area in front of the windshield's "Sentry Mode" camera.
We know about this neat, snow-melting feature thanks to Jon Herrity, who posted a few pictures of the system in action in the "Tesla Owners Online ModelS/3X/Y Cybertruck Semi Roadster" Facebook group. As you can see in the image below, it doesn't melt the snow on the entire windscreen, as that would likely put a pretty big strain on the battery. Instead, it melts a square just a few inches across—just large enough for the Sentry Mode camera to get a clear view of its surroundings. After all, if some unfriendly man decides to vandalize your car just because he "hates them electric cars," you want to make sure your camera can catch him whether it's sunny or snowy outside.
This feature has previously been noticed by users on other Tesla pages, like r/teslamotors on Reddit. Apparently, it uses the same sort of defrosting lines used on Teslas and most other cars, although the area around the camera is obviously on a separate circuit. It's also worth noting that such a system would also be good for getting rid of condensation, which would also obscure the camera's view.
According to other users, this system is on all of the time whether the driver uses Sentry Mode or not, in order to keep "Smart Summon"—a feature which drives your car to wherever you may be standing—working properly. Well, maybe just "working" would be a better way to put that. It doesn't exactly work as-planned all of the time.
In any case, expect features like this to start cropping up on any car with a battery of cameras and sensors intended to make self-driving an eventual reality. Other cars already have small washer jets for their cameras and sensors, but heating systems like Tesla have will doubtlessly become mainstream as well. Washers and heaters will be necessary for these systems to work.
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