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Now standard in the Tesla Model X: A bioweapon shield

Model X

A slide displayed during Elon Musk’s Tesla presentation Sept. 29 shows an interface with a button for “bioweapon defense mode.”

(Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)

Buying a Tesla comes with some unusual perks. Like falcon doors. And “ludicrous mode.” And now, protection from bioterrorists.

Seriously.

When Elon Musk announced the Model X on Tuesday in Fremont, Calif. -- Tesla’s first foray into the sport utility category -- he mentioned a new feature: “Bioweapon defense mode.”

“If there is ever an apocalyptic scenario of some kind, hypothetically, you just press the bioweapon defense mode button,” he explained.

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It’s the futuristic military-grade version of the air-recirculation button that comes standard with the Model X, which will have two air filters: one that’s 10 times larger than a regular car air filter, and a secondary filter with three layers of activated carbon that specialize in removing hydrocarbons, acidic gases (like sulfur) and alkaline gases (like ammonia).

Combined, Tesla boasts that the system will be 300 times better at filtering bacteria, 500 times better at fighting off allergens and 800 times better at seizing viruses from the air than your current car filter, rendering all three virtually undetectable from the interior of the vehicle. It’ll also be 700 times better at filtering out smog. According to Musk, the air quality in your Tesla will be comparable to that of a hospital operating room.

And that’s all before you activate “bioweapon defense mode.”

“This is a real button,” Musk assured the crowd, standing in front of a slide that showed a user interface with a menacing biohazard symbol. “We’re trying to be a leader in apocalyptic defense scenarios.”

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He declined to explain exactly what else happens when you go into bioweapon defense mode. Nor did he specify whether it guarantees protection from nuclear radiation or zombie virus outbreaks versus plain old weaponized SARS. For now, suffice it to say that if you see a mushroom cloud explode over the freeway, pray you’re one lane over from one of the six biodome vehicles on the road.

If you want to watch the livestream for yourself, Tesla has it on its website.

For more tech news, follow Jessica Roy on Twitter @jessica_roy.

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