A recent widespread AT&T service outage caused some disruptions for US Tesla owners, with many owners reporting unresponsive navigation apps and a loss of smartphone connectivity to their vehicles.
Tesla of course relies on AT&T 3G and LTE connectivity to provide navigation and music-sharing services, as well as general internet and smartphone connectivity through the company’s apps.
Cities and regions where Tesla owners reported connectivity problems included: Los Angeles, Daytona Beach, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Sarasota, Central Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Virginia, amongst others. The disruptions lasted for several hours or longer for some.
Teslarati notes that, “with the loss of internet connectivity to and from the vehicle, owners using the Tesla app to adjust climate control settings remotely were prompted with a ‘a connection to the vehicle could not be made’ message. Users reported, ‘trying to turn on the A/C using the Tesla app and it reported it was waking my car.’ Several minutes later, the app eventually times out with the message ‘A connection to the Vehicle Could Not Be Made.'”
With regard to Tesla’s use of AT&T connectivity for its Google Maps–based navigation app, Teslarati adds: “A user reports ‘UI said I was in 3G. Turned on my Verizon hotspot and connected the car. Everything started working right away.’ Calls by owners to Tesla’s Owner Support hotline were acknowledged with a reply from the company indicating that ‘it is Tesla’s problem, system wide, and they’re working it’.”
It should be stated here, to head some things off, that most autonomous driving systems under development wouldn’t be handicapped by an outage such as this, as the systems are being designed so that they can function safely without connectivity. I’m not sure how exactly the loss of navigation services and GPS would affect the effectiveness of self-driving systems, but one would presume not too much, and that such systems would store enough cached information that a loss of internet wouldn’t be a major impediment.
Potential vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems could perhaps be another matter though.