I know it’s already lame and cliched to be an Elon Musk fanboy, but c’mon. If you don’t think electric cars that accelerate so fast they peel the skin off your face or rocket ships that land backwards with pinpoint accuracy aren’t neato cool, you’ve strangled your inner child a long time ago.
The latest cool thing to come out of the Musk’s Tesla Motors: a “Bioweapon Defense Mode.”
Bioweapon Defense Mode.
That’s not something that Q is adding to James Bond’s car in the next movie. This is a real Tesla feature. Tesla isn’t just plotting to improve the car. They seem determined to make a quantum leap in personal transportation.
So how does it work? The technology uses HEPA filters so effective that you could literally survive a bioterrorism attack if you happened to be sitting in your Tesla when the anthrax bomb went off.
Okay, so this particular feature isn’t technically new. But initially, the term “Bioweapon Defense Mode,” which filters air for the driver, was considered tongue-in-cheek or exaggerated. It even raised hackles from Defense Department employees, who dismissed it as overblown puffery. While they acknowledged that it might be effective for bacterial bioweapons, they expressed doubts it could work against all possible biological attacks.
“Any filter like that is going to be efficient to a degree, but it’s not necessarily 100% efficient,” said Michael J. Buchmeier, deputy director of the Pacific Southwest Regional Center for Biodefense and Emerging Diseases at the University of California, Irvine.
But a recent statement from the Tesla team proved that they are doubling down. “Bioweapon Defense Mode is not a marketing statement, it is real,” they said. “You can literally survive a military grade bio attack by sitting in your car.”
To backup their claims, they put a Tesla Model X to the test. And they did it not unlike Q would test James Bond’s spy car: by putting it in a giant plastic bubble and then pumping it full of toxic air. Specifically, they polluted the bubble with about 83 times the amount of pollution that meets the EPA’s standards of “good” air quality. The Tesla team actually sat inside the car and wore gas masks to protect themselves during the experiment.
Here is a picture of the gray fluorescent-lit warehouse where the experiment was performed.
And for no particular reason, here’s a still from the 1981 film For Your Eyes Only, in which Q tells James Bond about his new Lotus Esprit Turbo in a gray fluorescent-lit warehouse.
What happened when the Tesla team switched on Bioweapon Defense Mode?
In under two minutes, the pollution levels inside the car went from “the air above a tire fire” to “the highest peak of a remote Pacific island after a refreshing tropical storm.” According to the Tesla team, pollution dropped to undetectable levels, and it was safe to remove their gas masks — even though it was still dangerously thick with pollutants outside the car.
Even cooler: Bioweapon Defense Mode actually starting to clean the air outside the car. It allegedly cut the pollutant levels in the bubble by 40%. While this experiment was performed with the Model X, the feature will also be a part of the new version of the Model S. Tesla owners lucky enough to have one will be able to enjoy clean air — or, at the very least, pretend they’re James Bond at the flick of a button.