Videos being shared on social media this week show an almost dystopian futuristic scene: Tesla drivers in Autopilot mode while wearing Apple Vision Pro headsets, seemingly unaware of the road ahead of them.
The videos prompted federal transportation officials to issue warnings.
But do people really mindlessly travel in Teslas in Autopilot mode and wearing Apple’s new futuristic glasses? Or is it all just a little? Part of an endless cycle of people doing stupid things to get clicks, likes, views, and influence?
The new glasses have a feature that merges digital applications and the environment into an immersive space, and videos of people using them in strange environments have started appearing on the Internet since they were launched on February 2.
Several of the videos taken in cars appear staged, and in many of them it is clear that someone other than the driver is recording. The videos are not widely distributed. Still, they seemed reckless enough for Pete Buttigieg, the transportation 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 the driving task at all times.” Mr. Buttigieg said in a post on X which included a video of a driver wearing headphones in what appeared to be a Tesla Cybertruck pickup truck.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also weighed in Tuesday. The agency said in a statement that “driving with a virtual reality headset is reckless and does not take into account the safety of everyone on the road.”
Dante Lentini, 21, who published a video of himself behind the wheel of a moving Tesla while wearing Vision Pro headphonesHe said in an interview: “It was all just for content.”
In the video, Lentini appears to be typing while wearing headphones while introspective piano music plays in the background.
“Think different,” Lentini wrote on X, in an apparent nod to a famous Apple advertising campaign from the late 1990s. His 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 appears to have been stopped in a parking lot and there are police vehicles in the background with their lights on. The way the video is edited suggests that Mr. Lentini was pulled over for driving while wearing the headphones.
But Lentini said in the interview that police were responding to something else in the area at the time, and that he and another person recorded them at the “right moment, right moment.”
He also said that despite how he appears in the video, he did not have any apps activated on the headset and only used 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 Airrack, posted a video mocking an “average day for an Apple Vision Pro owner,” showing him wearing the headphones while lifting weights at the gym, getting a haircut, going through airport security, walking down a street, and even taking a shower. (The Vision Pro is not waterproof.)
“I really feel like most of these videos are skits,” Lentini said. “Noticeable”.
Still, skit or no skit, 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 related to 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 guidelines on its website on how to use Vision Pro correctly.
“Never use the device while operating a moving vehicle, bicycle, heavy machinery, or in any other situation requiring attention to safety,” the company says.
Lentini said the Vision Pro headphones have a driving mode feature intended for passengers that disables the use of many apps.
Apple has announced the Vision Pro as a “spatial computing” device that allows users to watch videos, send emails and browse the Internet in immersive virtual reality. The headphones start at $3,499.