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Tesla Puts the Bioweapon Defense Mode to the Test, Passes with Flying Colors

We're pretty sure we weren't the only ones who raised a circumspect eyebrow the first time we heard about Model X's Bioweapon Defense Mode. Yeah, sure, we knew Tesla had the habit of naming its features in funny ways, but this was a bit too far even for Musk's company.
Model X in BDM test 3 photos
Bio Weapon Defense GraphModel X in BDM test
"Surely, that's just a pompous way of marketing what is probably just a very good air conditioning unit," we thought while shaking our heads disapprovingly. Apparently, though, the Bioweapon Defense Mode lives up to its name and should you find yourself attacked with chemical weapons, inside your Model X is where you want to be.

A new Model S will do the trick as well, since the sedan has also been equipped with this feature following last month's update. "But what's the big deal," you might ask? It's not like smelling a few cow's farts as you pass by a farm is going to kill anybody, right? Well, maybe not, but the terrible air pollution that's starting to spread in most major cities will. Not to mention Tesla is betting big on the Chinese market, and we all know the mess those people call "air" over there.

So the Bioweapon Defense Mode (BDM) is not just a gimmick but also a very useful feature to have. That is, if it actually works. Tesla recently put it to test by enclosing a Model X into a plastic bubble with a controlled atmosphere. The test is described in a blog post, but here are the most relevant excerpts:

"The air filtration system was put to the test in real-world environments from California freeways during rush hour, to smelly marshes, landfills, and cow pastures in the central valley of California, to major cities in China. We wanted to ensure that it captured fine particulate matter and gaseous pollutants, as well as bacteria, viruses, pollen and mold spores.

"We then decided to take things a step further and test the complete system as we would on the road, but in an environment where we could precisely control and carefully monitor atmospheric conditions. A Model X was placed in a large bubble contaminated with extreme levels of pollution (1,000 µg/m3 of PM2.5 vs. the EPA's 'good' air quality index limit of 12 µg/m3). We then closed the falcon doors and activated Bioweapon Defense Mode

The graph you can find below shows the evolution of the air quality both inside the vehicle and outside of it. The BDM moment of activation is marked by a red dotted line, but it's not as if you couldn't tell when it started to do its thing just by looking at the graphic.

Tesla's post concludes, "Not only did the vehicle system completely scrub the cabin air, but in the ensuing minutes, it began to vacuum the air outside the car as well, reducing PM2.5 levels by 40%. In other words, Bioweapon Defense Mode is not a marketing statement, it is real. You can literally survive a military grade bio attack by sitting in your car."

The system could be further improved by equipping future cars with even more powerful and efficient air filters, but even as it stands right now, we don't know of any other production car (not counting specially modified armored vehicles) capable of protecting its occupants from a "military grade bio-attack." On the other hand, we haven't heard of such attack either, so maybe it's better to focus on its ability to make air pollution redundant while sitting in the car.


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