According to the most recent federal statistics dating back to 2017, an automobile or two-wheeler is stolen in the United States every 40,8 seconds, a statistic that doesn't include "minor" crimes like breaking glass and other vandalism. Starting from this assumption, Tesla wanted to implement a somewhat unprecedented security system on its cars (on all Model 3 and Model S and X built after August 2017), which takes advantage of all the video cameras installed on board and useful - of norm - to semi-assisted driving and Autopilot.
Let's start by saying that the recently manufactured Teslas (after 2017) have on board, installed by default, 8 different cameras. A main front that covers up to 150 meters, a secondary focused front that covers up to 250 meters, a wide angle up to 60 meters; and again two forward facing side cameras up to 80 meters, one rear facing camera up to 50 meters, two rear facing side cameras, seeing up to 100 meters.
While driving, all these digital eyes always focused on the road can record - like any dashcam, but from multiple angles - the images on the memory card, so that the driver can have - if necessary - the recordings of what happens around the vehicle. The eyes of the Teslas do not even close once the car is parked, that is when the Sentinel comes into play: As soon as the sensors detect something unusual around the vehicle, such as an approaching pedestrian, the system starts recording.
Sentry Mode also logged vehicle license plates that have hit the Teslas to run away immediately afterwards, in practice the potential of the system is truly infinite. Many criminals were reported and then traced thanks to the recordings, thanks to the Tesla Sentinel the driver of a pick-up was even fined who, by bullying the electric car, broke some rules of the American highway code.
Was George Orwell right?
If on the one hand a similar system, with practically continuous recording, can scare someone, fearing Orwellian 1984 scenarios (the system can still be turned off, or activated/deactivated in certain areas), on the other it is undeniable how it can also be a essential. Furthermore, the images would not be at the mercy of an authoritarian government but of each individual owner.
Even today, many petty thieves do not know the Sentinel Mode and fall "with all shoes" in the recordings, however, in the event that this technology becomes mass, if every car on the market had something similar on board, most likely it would stop commit minor crimes. Perhaps reaching absolute zero is certainly a utopia, but certainly the thefts and acts of vandalism could be reduced by a few percentage points.
Someone could then say that the world of information technology has taught us that no software is 100% safe, probably hackers in the near future could find a way to disable the mode and act undisturbed, however we are in the world of hypotheses and it could be years before the bad guys find a valid solution.
Each camera on board could then be obscured, but it is often difficult to locate them and - in the event that every new car has cameras everywhere - every thief would have to know perfectly the scheme of that particular car, so it is a very difficult scenario to implement. And darkening the cameras also takes time, it would be more difficult to act in the sunlight.
Clearly nothing can be done against those who wear hoods properly, but the images can always be used to redeem insurance against theft or damage. In various countries of the world front dashcams are already mandatory, in this case we are talking about a dashcam to the nth degree, supplied with the car, operating 24 hours a day and at 24 degrees. The bad guys are warned...