Once upon a time, a car’s lights were simple filament bulbs hooked up to relays and run off the car’s 12-volt electrical system. You could flash your headlights with a tug on the stalk, or turn your indicators on and off with a flick of the wrist, and that was about it. Now, automotive lighting is very much integrated with a vehicle’s computers, and can be controlled in altogether more granular fashion. Tesla enthusiasts put this to great use recently by organizing a massive light show with hundreds of cars that’s all synchronized to music.
As seen on YouTube, Tesla enthusiast Simon Pollock was behind the creation of the huge synchronized show which involved 687 Tesla vehicles descending on a carpark just outside of Helsinki, Finland. Pollock has long run TeslaLightShows.io, a website for downloading and sharing light shows for the Tesla that feature various popular songs or movie themes. The show, organized along with Tesla Club Finland, aimed to beat the previous record of 255 cars achieved in Germany.
Tesla light shows involve flashing the headlights, running lights, brake lights, and indicators, often along with some kind of musical accompaniment. Some shows also go farther, opening the charge port or moving the mirrors to add to the visual effect. Running them on a vehicle is as simple as downloading a custom show file on to a USB stick, plugging it into the vehicle, and then starting the show from the infotainment screen. Custom shows are made using a piece of software called xLights, a tool commonly used to program Christmas light displays. Tesla shares a guide on how to make custom shows on Github for interested owners. Shows are limited to 5 minutes in length.
It might sound difficult to synchronize hundreds of cars into a single massive light show, but there’s a nifty little feature that actually makes it trivially simple. Tesla includes a feature that lets a light show be scheduled for a certain time. Teslas have their clocks synchronized by default over the internet, so you can rely on this to keep them in sync. It’s as simple as loading up a show on all the cars, and setting them all to kick off at exactly the same time.
For the world record attempt, Pollock programmed light shows for multiple tracks. The first, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World: by Royal Deluxe. The second phase then began with “Track 9” by KS BRa & JDJ 030, before transitioning into diehard club classic “Sandstorm” by Darude. Different cars ran slightly different programs to enable the creation of effects that scattered and danced over the field of vehicles, with Pollock creating a total of 66 different show files to map across the fleet. Drone footage was shot by a crew from Flybyguys.com, which captured the feat both up close and from afar.
The ultimate result is stunning, a giant blinking mass of vehicles spread out over the terrain. Doing this at scale is no mean feat, mostly from an organizational perspective. Regardless, Pollock and Tesla Club Finland pulled off a world record here, creating a beautiful kind of automotive art that’s thoroughly modern and quite unlike anything else out there. Here’s to the next one—may it be even larger again.
Image credit: Tesla via Github, header image: Youtube Screenshot/Simon Pollock