Just like the world of computers, the world of electric and plug-in cars is full of competing standards, different protocols and frustratingly incompatible ways of doing simple things like charging a battery pack up.
Case in point? At the last count — not including the various country-specific outlets and plugs for emergency charging — there are more than seven different standards we can think of around the world for charging plug-in vehicles.
But while electric vehicle advocates and would-be buyers are continually frustrated and confused by the myriad of charging options on the market today, there’s at least one thing they can be assured of.
The Tesla Model S electric car — which itself uses Tesla’s own proprietary Supercharger connector and charging stations in order to rapidly replenish its battery pack — is backwards compatible with the humble floppy disk drive.
Confused? We’ll explain.
The Tesla Model S, like any other modern car on the market today, has an complex, sophisticated in-car entertainment and navigation system. Like other automakers, Tesla bases that system on current computer technology, but instead of choosing the usual embedded Microsoft-based systems favored by most automakers, the main infotainment system of the Tesla Model S runs on a customised Linux-based system.
That much we already knew, thanks to a series of enterprising Tesla Model S owners earlier this year who decided to hack into their car’s on-board computer system by building a custom ethernet adapter for their car.
But as Teslarati reports, one Tesla Model S owner decided to find out if the Linux-based operating system — and the two USB ports located in the centre console for charging mobile telephones and playing music from a USB memory stick — could recognise other USB devices too.
Enter Tesla Model S owner Michael Cermak, who tried plugging in a series of different USB devices into his luxury plug-in car.
The result? While Cermak had no luck with a USB keyboard, he was able to get the Model S’ on-board system to recognise the USB mouse. Upon plugging the standard computer optical mouse into one of the car’s USB ports, a cursor in the form of a small blue dot appeared on the massive 17-inch touch screen, allowing him to navigate and access menus with the mouse rather than the touch-screen.
Similarly, while a USB CD-Rom drive refused to work, Cermak found that his Tesla Model S was more than happy to read data from a USB-based 3.5-inch floppy disk drive. You know, the kind of drives which ceased being popular before Tesla Motors had even been founded.
As those who remember the days of 3.5-inch HD floppy disk drives will remember however, the maximum capacity of 1.44 MB formatted means using a floppy disk drive to play your favourite MP3s on your Tesla Model S isn’t going to be particularly easy. Especially if you consider that most modern high-sample rate MP3 files are at least five times that size for a single 3-minute song.
Of course, you could always down-size your favourite tunes to a lower bit rate in order to fit — but as we think you’ll agree, 8 kbps renditions of your favourite album on a single floppy disk drive isn’t perhaps the best use of that nice Tesla Model S sound system.
Why some devices and not others? We think it’s got something to do with the way that each system works within the car.
We’re guessing — although we’re not 100 percent sure — that the touch screen on the Tesla Model S has a built-in digitiser that makes it appear to the car like a mouse, while the USB keyboard has been disabled for security due to the on-screen keyboard built in to the Tesla’s operating system.
And the CD drive? We’re guessing that’s down to missing drivers in the system.
Either way, our inner nerds are having a nerdgasm right now – and we’re wondering how long it will be before someone hooks up something even less practical to those USB ports.
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