Has there been any released information about security features (like alarm system or theft tracking)?
I am not aware of any explicit information but it seems that the app (prototype is for iPhone, Android has been announced) offers a GPS tracking feature. Very much like using Google Maps on your phone, just that the indicated location refers to the car's GPS rather than the phone's. There's a video at Engadget that shows a rough and quick outlook of the upcoming app:
(Third video, almost at the bottom of the page. I did not link the video directly b/c I think the article is worth reading as well.)
The maps and other info that needs internet connectivity depends on the 3G/4G service you purchase. Elsewhere it was noted that the car would be able to get this information from your phone (tethering).
Note that if you use the tethering (WiFi vs. 3G), you don't get to control your car remotely, nor do you get to see where it is if anyone else (who doesn't tether) is using it. Think valet parking, theft, your kids, etc..
Someone else suggested that tethering on/off should be a privileged setting that could, e.g., be protected with a PIN or bound to a particular car key. This way you could choose to leave no digital traces when driving yourself, but at the same time you could force tethering on for any other drivers, who will not be able to turn it off again (except for driving into areas without network coverage).
You can always turn tethering off on your phone. There is very little the car can do about this. Also, most providers in the US still make tethering difficult (expect perhaps for T-Mobile).
All the services in the car are designed to have a permanent connection of its own. I don't think anybody will be happy using an external connection such as tethering.
Let’s just hope Tesla can negotiate a good contract and that it isn’t with AT&T as their speeds in many locations are horrible (IMHO)
There needs to be some controls over these capabilities. As a cyber security guy, I'm very reluctant to transmit anything over the airways. So if I can't have full control over what gets transmitted, I won't use it.
I totally agree. Even though I don't always care if something gets transmitted if it benefits me, I DO want to have the option to turn all tranmissions from the car off. This includes Geo Location, 3g/4g and WiFi radios (basically, an airplane mode)
@rbrownsword: That's going to be a problem, because the GPS downloads the relevant maps from Google. So, it must be the case that the car must send at least some information about your location to pull those maps. Disabling that transmission would disable your GPS. Perhaps Tesla could "fuzz" the location it uploads; after all, it's going to pull the same big map area regardless.
I'm far more concerned about the risk of a take-over of the car by a remote hacker. Privacy concerns are trumped by safety and security.
You can always turn tethering off on your phone. There is very little the car can do about this. (gjunky)
Sorry, I was totally wrong with my terminology. I did not mean tethering with the drivers phone. My comment was referring to the car having a 3G/4G connection of its own, and turning that connection on and off.
Thinking about it, the car would also need a way to protect the car's SIM card to be removed (it will have to use GSM at least over here in Europe). Otherwise that would be a far-too-easy way to interrupt the car's connectivity.
I have been using a wifi only tablet as my GPS navigation system for a few weeks now. There is no 3G on roads in many national parks. I use Google map. While on the road and disconnected I can not make a driving plan/route or do a search but everything I looked at and created while connected is stored and I still have a fully functional GPS and map.
If Tesla is going to rely on 3G or 4G only for GPS and navigation then the system will be useless.
I'm sure they will use a system similar to this or better which means you will be able to shut down all transmissions and still use the map software.
Somewhere on the Tesla website (maybe the Features section), I noticed that Tesla will be offering a DVD based navigation system to supplement the 3G connection.
They might be able to cache enough data from Google Maps to easily go from one zone of good signal to another. It depends on how many GBytes they have on hand and some software. Flash memory to hold several DVDs could be put into the car with ease.
One of the things Tesla seems to want to do is to keep the car up to date remotely. Letting Google Maps keep the roads up to date for you is an easy way out.
Thirty years ago I patented "A Sequential Locking Device". You have ten seconds to enter your code to start the car. If not, the horn sounds and the car will not start. My 1976 Datsun 280Z has been protected by this device for thirty years.
An APP can accomplish the same thing. Your PASSWORD must be entered or the TM model S will not move. At any time the PASSWORD can be replaced by a second or VALET MODE password. The car would be programmed to travel not more than 100 feet at 15 MPH or less in valet mode. This APP should prevent theft of the car.