Is a Tesla Model S Electric Car Backwards Compatible? Of Course: It runs Linux

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.

The Tesla Model S is backwards compatible... with a floppy disk.

The Tesla Model S is backwards compatible… with a floppy disk.

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.

The Tesla Model S' USB ports will take a number of peripherals designed for everyday computers.

The Tesla Model S’ USB ports will take a number of peripherals designed for everyday computers.

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.

Playing an MP3 from a floppy drive? Probably not the best use of a USB socket.

Playing an MP3 from a floppy drive? Probably not the best use of a USB socket.

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.

————————————

Want to keep up with the latest news in evolving transport? Don’t forget to follow Transport Evolved on Twitter, like us on Facebook and G+, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

______________________________________

Want to keep up with the latest news in evolving transport? Don’t forget to follow Transport Evolved on Twitter, like us on Facebook and G+, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInDigg thisShare on RedditEmail this to someonePin on Pinterest

Related News