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Navigation without 3G signal?

Just got my model S with tech package and I have a question about the navigation: when you enter an address/destination and you're out of 3G range, what is supposed to happen? Because is seems like it doesn't recognize anything without Internet connectivity... Which means its basically useless to begin a new navigation session outside of 3G range. That can't be right, can it? What am I missing?

There's supposed to be a navigation database stored locally in the car if you have the tech package, I think, and that's separate from Google Maps. But I think the voice recognition requires sending the audio to Google for processing.

But it does seem like the Model S might have been designed by someone who wanted to be able to assume it would always have Internet connectivity. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if a car company CEO decided that always-on Internet connectivity for a car was so important that he wanted to spend half his time working on making satellite launch cheaper with a goal of making satellite Internet just as affordable as terrestrial Internet. It seems pretty clear that you'd get lots of investors shorting the stock, but maybe it would be worth it in the long run.

Or, failing that, maybe there's some room for bringing better solar and battery technology to the cell companies, to help them build cell towers (with wireless backhaul) in places where getting power from the grid is prohibitively expensive (like the tops of mountains).

(I do realize that Elon was CEO of SpaceX before becoming CEO of Tesla, and there has been no specific claim from SpaceX about affordability of satellite Internet, etc, but it is interesting how all of his investments seem to have the potential to ultimately improve the cars.)

The car has google map on the 17" display and Garmin Navigation on the instrument panel.

The Garmin system is built-in and does not need 3G to work. It works fine and speaks directions and road names fine without 3G.

The pictorial map of Google map requires 3G to draw current satellite picture/map/traffic. Without 3G, a triangle (your car icon) at the center is lonely with a greyed out background with no map at all.

In another word, you won't be lost with a 3G blackout because the Garmin navigation is alive!


I understood the navigation to work the way you describe. However, it does not work this way for me. We have two houses in areas with weak cell service. I have the tech package but cannot search for way points or addresses when out of cell range.

Thanks for the clarification Dave.

I drove into no-cell-phone zones from time to time and experienced grayed-out Google Map and saw the Garmin map still worked so I made the wrong assumption.

Now that you pointed out, but of course, that’s because 3G has to be active first to enter searches.

Total dependent on Cell phone/3G signal is not a very comforting design, especially after the death of CNET senior editor James Kim when his family got lost in the snow of 2006 Thanksgiving holiday, in a no-cell-phone coverage area, driving from Seattle, WA to home in San Francisco, CA.

Without a 3G signal you can still type an address in the search dialog box and the builtin Nav will find that address and provide turn-by-turn navigation to that address. What doesn't work is voice searches or typed searches for a store by name. If you have a street address the search will work.

I am on a campaign to have the 3G dependent maps replaced by ones that are resident in the car. I don't know how traffic could be included but having the maps there full time is better than having them there part time.

I've tried typing in an address when Im outside of cell phone range and nothing seems to happen. It just sits there. Can't even tell if its trying to load anything. Just seems to do nothing.

An I doing something wrong?

Maybe it's because the HD isn't available yet; the locally stored maps would need to be stored there.

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