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Someone hacked a Tesla Model S to work with Amazon’s Echo

Published May 8th, 2016 9:00AM EDT
Tesla Summon
Image: Green Car Reports

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While Tesla is undeniably hastening the adoption and popularity of electric vehicles, the company is also pushing the envelope as it pertains to self driving cars. Indeed, Tesla’s suite of autonomous driving technologies is one of the more impressive features baked into the Model S and Model X.

One of the more interesting sub-features of Tesla’s autonomous driving suite is Summon, a feature Tesla introduced this past January which lets owners summon their Model S or Model X when it’s already parked. Impressively, the feature can even be used when a Tesla vehicle is parked inside a garage. As we noted previously, Summon is effectively auto-start on steroids.

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In fact, an official Tesla blogpost from a few months ago suggests that the company has grand plans for Summon.

During this Beta stage of Summon, we would like customers to become familiar with it on private property. Eventually, your Tesla will be able to drive anywhere across the country to meet you…

While we obviously have a ways to go before that becomes a reality, some enterprising tinkerers are already busy modifying the Summon feature in interesting ways.

Most recently, Jason Goecke decided to connect his Tesla Model S to his Amazon Echo as to enable him to take advantage of the Summon feature using voice commands.

And in a nice little twist, Goecke set it up so that the car responds to KITT, a fun little homage to Knight Rider.

You can check out the result of Goecke’s tinkering below.

As for how it all works, Goecke described the design process for Teslarati.

The tech behind this is all based in the cloud. I am using the Amazon Echo’s Alex Skill Kit to trigger on a keyword (‘ask KITT’) and send the resulting event to AWS Lambda. Lambda then executes my code (I built my Lambda function with Apex, which I highly recommend for anyone working with Lambda) where I use the Tesla Golang library I recently published. The Golang code on Lambda then calls the unofficial Tesla API which in turns triggers the car to take action. In this case, to open the garage door via Homelink and drive on out using the Summon capability.

Undoubtedly impressive, Goecke doesn’t have plans to keep the makeshift feature active for long.

“A fun weekend project for sure,” Goecke writes, “but there are a lot of security issues to address before I leave this skill enabled on my Echo. Not least is the fact my kids could have a lot of fun asking the Tesla to pull in and out of the garage repeatedly while I am fast asleep.”

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.