"We shut the car down when it was driving initially at a low speed of five miles per hour. All the screens go black, the music turns off and the handbrake comes on, lurching it to a stop," Marc Rogers, one of the security researchers, said to the Financial Times. At higher speeds the handbrake didn't come on when the system shut off. Instead, the Model S went into neutral with the driver still having control. According to Wired, the airbags were also still fully functional. The researchers will detail six newly discovered vulnerabilities during the upcoming Def Con conference in Las Vegas.
Tesla drivers have no need to fear in the meantime. The hackers worked with the EV maker to understand the holes. A Tesla spokesperson confirmed to Autoblog that the patch has already been sent over the air to the sedans. A full statement from the automaker can be read below.
Tesla has had a fairly open relationship with hackers in the past. In 2014, the company offered $10,000 to any group that could gain access to a Model S. University students from China successfully won the money. Some of the company's online accounts were also once briefly hacked.
Our security team works closely with the security research community to ensure that we continue to protect our systems against vulnerabilities by constantly stress-testing, validating, and updating our safeguards. This research was a result of physically being in Model S to test for vulnerabilities. We've already developed and deployed an update for the vulnerabilities they surfaced to all Model S customers through our over-the-air update system.
Our over-the-air software updates remotely add new features and functionality to Model S. Similarly to how you receive updates to your smartphone, Model S owners download these updates from Tesla via wifi or a cellular connection. A button will pop up on Model S's 17" touchscreen and an owner can select a time to download the latest version of software. The ability to receive these features and fixes is free for the life of the vehicle and is one more way that Tesla is redefining auto-ownership.