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Elon Musk Has A Deal With Atari To Turn Teslas Into Game Consoles

Illustration for article titled Elon Musk Has A Deal With Atari To Turn Teslas Into Game Consoles

I’ll admit, I feel sort of strange about this. I laid into Elon Musk pretty hard last week for that whole kids-in-caves-submarine-pedo-thing, but today Musk announced, over Twitter, that Tesla had an agreement with Atari to put some classic Atari games into the Tesla’s infotainment system as Easter Eggs (a concept that got its start on an Atari, even). This is so up my alley I feel weird about it, like I’m being trolled.

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But that’s absurd. Elon doesn’t give a shit about me. Still, the idea of a car as a game console is one I’ve played with before. This could be fun, right?

I mean, fun as long as they lock it out so you can’t play Yar’s Revenge while the car is on Autopilot and you’re supposed to be paying attention, I suppose.

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It’s an interesting deal for the group of whomevers that owns the Atari name and intellectual properties now. It hasn’t been the same company that brought you the 2600 and the Lynx for decades, and they’re currently considering some new console thing, so perhaps a venture into a car as console isn’t such a stretch.

I mean, really, everything you need to play classics like Asteroids (even an emulated vector version) or Missile Command or Centipede is all there—computer, screen, some controls.

I’m curious to know if they’ll use, say the steering wheel and pedals to control games, which would be ideal for Pole Position, as, again, I’ve proven empirically, and could be fun for other games, too. Like any side-to-side moving shooter, where you steer with the wheel and shoot with the gas pedal.

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For people playing in parking lots, Tesla uses a mechanical link to the steering rack, so you’ll get to see those wheels turning, wearing flat spots in tires.

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I really wonder what games they’ll pick for this; we know “classic Atari,” but does that mean their arcade games, or, say, old 2600 titles? Will we see Paperboy or Battlezone or 2600 games like Space Invaders and E.T.? Or maybe Krull. I bet Elon’s really pushing for Krull.

In addition to Atari’s game library, it looks like Elon is seeking out his own original games, as this tweet suggests:

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The fundamental idea of using the resources of a car to play games has been explored before, by various hackers and experimenters, and it’s not even the first time a manufacturer has explored it—remember the Pacifica’s games in their rear seat screens? 

Still, this is a bit more focused—a real partner from the gaming industry, the center-stack screen—I’m curious to see how this all pans out.

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Also, I’d like to push for Joust. Atari had the console rights to that, and making the ostrich flap with the accelerator and steering with the wheel seems like it’d work great.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!: https://rb.gy/udnqhh)

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DISCUSSION

thetaothatcanbespoken
The Tao that can be spoken

The really big news is that they have working autopilot v3 hardware that is 10x as fast as their NVDIA based v2 solution.

This means that they have a badass ASIC based matrix coprocessor tuned for neural network processing. I wish they would release a PCIe board with a tensorflow driver. This could be like Amazon AWS: a side project that winds up being incredibly profitable. Everyone is playing with neural networks for all kinds of cool stuff and if you can get an order of magnitude improvement over something like a $9k NVIDA Tesla they would sell like hot cakes.