The recent launch of the Apple Vision Pro mixed-reality headset has inspired a number of social media stunts, including a viral video of someone wearing the headset while piloting a Tesla Cybertruck set to self-driving mode. On Monday, this prompted US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to issue a warning on social media, reports BBC and The New York Times.
“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 social media platform X.
The Apple Vision Pro’s mixed-reality features combine elements of stereoscopic VR with camera passthrough so users can see the world around them while they use the device. This has led to people experimenting with wearing the goggles while walking around in public and filming the results for TikTok and YouTube.
But, as The New York Times asks, are people legitimately attempting to use the headset while driving, or is it all a stunt? “Several of the videos taken in cars appear staged, and in many, it is clear that someone other than the driver is recording,” writes Jesus Jiménez for The New York Times. “The videos are not widespread.”
The NYT spoke to the creator of another viral Apple Vision Pro video, Dante Lentini, who admitted his video was staged. In the video, Lentini sits behind the wheel of a Tesla in autopilot mode while wearing the new headset, appearing to be typing as the car drives itself. Later, the video appears to show Lentini being pulled over by police for wearing the goggles. Lentini told the NYT that it was just a lucky coincidence that police were nearby and that he edited it to look that way.
Still, social media stunts with tens of millions of views have the potential to inspire copycats, 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 with advanced driver assistance systems require a fully attentive human driver performing the driving task and monitoring the surrounding environment at all times.”
Distracted driving is a serious hazard, killing 3,522 Americans in 2021. For its part, Apple’s online safety guide for the Vision Pro specifically warns against it: “Never use the device while operating a moving vehicle, bicycle, heavy machinery, or in any other situations requiring attention to safety.”