Skip to main content

Tesla’s AI Gear Selector and Touchscreen Control In Action In New Model S

A new video gives us our first glimpse of how Tesla's neural network gear selector works and how it is overridden by the touchscreen. We also see how to engage Plaid in the new Model S.


When Tesla unveiled the refreshed Model S and X back in January, one of the most radical changes that was announced with the vehicles was the removal of the gear shifter and windshield wiper stalks.

At the time Elon Musk, asked about the lack of gear shifter said the vehicle will be able to guess which gear it should be on based on navigation data and the surrounding. And if the driver wants to override it he/she can do so from the touchscreen.

Related news: Breaking: As Elon Musk Promised You Can Now Buy A Tesla Using Bitcoin

Musk, when the new Model S and X were unveiled said he would hold a call with journalists to explain all the new features and performance of the vehicles. However the call never happened, and now almost 2 months out from the unveiling we still have to rely on leaks and spy shots to even get the most basic information about the vehicles.

Tesla Model S & X New Interior

Yesterday we reported about a new video shared by a Reddit user who goes by the name FridayTheDog111. In the video, FridayTheDog111 gave us the first glimpse of the new UI coming with the refreshed Model S & X. FridayTheDog111 was able to take the video after he spotted a refreshed Model S charging at Tesla’s Kettleman supercharger station.

In the images he shared we see Tesla new UI coming with refreshed Model S and X. We also see the reintroduction of Tesla’s Insane Mode but, this time in a none performance Model S. There was also a new Drag Strip Mode button in the new UI.

However, in the video, the Model S in question was in park, and we didn’t get to see what might be the biggest change that has come with the refresh - neural networks taking the place of the gear shifter and the windshield wiper control.

Lucky for us a new video from WholeMarsCatalog gives us a bit more detail on how the new feature works. In the new video, we see on the left-most edge of the 17-inch screen there is an avatar of a Model S. And in order to forward you just drag the car icon forward, and to reverse you drag the car icon backward.

Related news: Elon Musk Confirms New Tesla Model S Seats 7, But These Questions Remain

However, the car icon also controls more features on top of the gear. Swiping the car icon forward once puts the vehicle in Chill Mode, swiping the icon twice puts the vehicle in Performance Mode, and doing the same thing 3 times puts the vehicle in Plaid.

This is certainly an interesting implementation of a gear shifter. Judging just from this short video it seems this will be more cumbersome than having a dedicated gear shifter stalk. However, if the neural networks are so good drivers barely have to use the touchscreen controls then the cleaner aesthetics make it worth it.

Musk seems to be excited about the new feature. Elon believes after getting used to driving with a “Smart Shifter”, going back to regular shifters will feel annoying.

So what do you think? Do you like Tesla’s touchscreen gear shifter implementation? Or do you think the vehicles would be better of with a regular gear shifter? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

For more information check out: Here is How ARK Invest And Cathie Wood’s New Research Gives Tesla A $3T Market Cap Also, see Tesla Giga Berlin Investment Rises To $6.9B As Elon Downplays Water Impact

Tinsae Aregay has been following Tesla and The evolution of the EV space on a daily basis for several years. He covers everything about Tesla from the cars to Elon Musk, the energy business, and autonomy. Follow Tinsae on Twitter at @TinsaeAregay for daily Tesla news.