The recent launch of the Apple Vision Pro mixed reality headset inspired a number of stunts on social media, including a viral video of someone wearing the headset while driving a Tesla Cybertruck set in self-driving mode. On Monday, this prompted US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to issue a warning on social media, the BBC and the New York Times reported.
“Reminder – all advanced driver assistance systems available today require the human driver to be in control and fully engaged in the driving task at all times,” Buttigieg wrote on the X social media platform.
The mixed reality features in Apple Vision Pro combine elements of stereoscopic virtual reality with camera panning so users can see the world around them while they use the device. This has led to people experimenting with wearing goggles while walking around in public and filming the results for TikTok and YouTube.
But as the New York Times asks, are people legitimately trying to use headphones while driving, or is it all just a ruse? “Many of the videos captured in cars appear to be staged, and in many of them, it is clear that someone other than the driver is recording,” Jesus Jimenez wrote for the New York Times. “The videos are not widespread.”
The New York Times spoke with the creator of another viral Apple Vision Pro video, Dante Lentini, who admitted that his video was fake. In the video Lentini Sitting behind the wheel of a Tesla It’s on autopilot while wearing the new headset, and appears to type while the car drives itself. Later, the video appears to show that police stopped Lentini for wearing safety glasses. Lentini told the New York Times that the presence of police nearby was just a lucky coincidence, and that he edited the photo to look that way.
However, social media stunts with tens of millions of views have the potential to inspire imitators, and that gives officials pause. In a statement to Fortune, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said: “Driving while wearing a VR headset is reckless and disregards the safety of everyone on the road. All vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems require a fully alert human driver to perform the driving task.” And monitor the surrounding environment at all times.”
Distracted driving poses a serious danger, killing 3,522 Americans in 2021. For its part, Apple’s online safety guide for the Vision Pro specifically warns of this: “Never use the device while operating a moving vehicle, bicycle, or heavy machinery Or in any other car. Situations that require attention to safety.”