Videos shared on social media this week depict an almost dystopian, futuristic scene: drivers of Teslas on Autopilot while wearing Apple Vision Pro headsets, seemingly oblivious to the road ahead.
The videos prompted federal transportation officials to issue warnings.
But are people really driving around mindlessly in Teslas on Autopilot wearing Apple’s new futuristic glasses? Or is it all a bit? Part of an endless cycle of people doing stupid things for clicks, likes, views and influence?
The new glasses have a feature that merges digital apps and a person’s environment into an immersive space, and videos of people wearing them in strange settings have started appearing online since they were released on February 2.
Several of the in-car videos appear staged, and in many it is clear that someone other than the driver is recording. Videos are not widely distributed. However, they appeared reckless enough for Pete Buttigieg, the transport secretary, to weigh in on social media.
“Reminder – ALL advanced driver assistance systems available today require the human driver to be in control and fully engaged in driving at all times.” Mr Buttigieg said in a post on X which included a video of a driver using a headset in what appeared to be a Tesla Cybertruck pickup.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also issued an alert on Tuesday. The agency said in a statement that “driving while wearing a VR headset is reckless and disregards the safety of everyone on the road.”
Dante Lentini, 21, who posted a video of himself behind the wheel of a moving Tesla while wearing a Vision Pro headsethe said in an interview, “It was all about content.”
In the video, Mr. Lentini can be seen typing while wearing the headphones as introspective piano music plays in the background.
“Think different,” Mr. Lentini wrote on X, in an apparent nod to a famous Apple ad campaign from the late 1990s. Its video has been viewed more than 24 million times. (One commenter wrote, “I really hope you get arrested for this.”)
Later in the video, Mr. Lentini is seen pulled into a parking lot, with police vehicles in the background with their lights on. The way the video was edited suggests that Mr. Lentini was pulled over for driving while wearing the headset.
But Mr. Lentini said in the interview that the police were responding to something else in the area at the time and that he and someone else recorded them “at the right time, at the right time.”
He also said that despite what it looks like in the video, he had not activated any apps on the headset and only wore it for about 30 seconds.
“That was just for the video,” he said.
Is this the future? A world where people can’t step away from the digital realm long enough to focus solely on everyday tasks like socializing or exercising?
Eric Decker, a YouTube and TikTok creator who goes by the name Airrack, posted a video of himself enjoying an “average day for an Apple Vision Pro owner,” showing him wearing the headset while lifting weights at the gym, getting his hair cut. going through airport security, walking down a street and even showering. (Vision Pro is not waterproof.)
“I really feel like most of these videos are skits,” Mr. Lentini said. “You can just say.”
Still, whether I think about it or not, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday that distracted driving is no joke. In 2021, more than 3,500 people in the United States died in crashes involving distracted driving and more than 360,000 were injured, the agency said.
“There are no fully autonomous vehicles available for sale today,” the agency said.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. Apple declined to comment on the videos, but referred to safety instructions on its website about how to properly use Vision Pro.
“Never use the device while operating a moving vehicle, bicycle, heavy machinery, or in other situations that require attention to safety,” the company says.
Mr Lentini said the Vision Pro headsets have a passenger-only driving mode that disables the use of many apps.
Apple has billed the Vision Pro as a “spatial computing” device that lets users watch videos, send emails and surf the web in an immersive virtual reality. The headphones start at $3,499.