A man drives while wearing Apple Vision Pro headset

Warnings after Tesla owners seen driving while wearing Apple Vision Pro headset

Virtual insanity

Tesla owners have had to be reminded that they shouldn’t be wearing virtual reality (VR) — or any other kind of computer headset — while driving.

The call has come in the wake of several videos appearing online, with footage showing drivers at the wheels of their Teslas when wearing Apple’s Vision Pro device over their eyes.

It has even prompted Pete Buttigieg, the US Secretary for Transportation, to post on X (formerly Twitter), “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,” alongside a 13-second clip of one of the VR-wearing drivers at the wheel of a Tesla Cybertruck.

One video said to be a skit

Several different videos apparently showing drivers wearing the Apple Vision Pro unit while driving emerged on the day the headset became publicly available to buy in the US.

The veracity of some of them has been called into question after one social media personality claimed his video was deliberately staged.

Dante Lentini was filmed wearing the US$3,500 (around £2,786 at the time of writing) headset while driving a Tesla, before getting pulled over by the police.

However, tech website Gizmodo later reported that Lentini said the film was a “skit” that he made with friends, in which he only “drove with the headset for 30-40 seconds”.

Other videos, though, apparently show regular Tesla drivers at the wheels of their vehicles, oblivious to the dangers they’re posing to themselves and other road users when using the VR headset.

Driver-assist technology confusingly named

Teslas have various assisted-driving capabilities, to a limited degree, but the technology is nowhere near the level required for the human occupant behind the wheel to be completely disengaged from the driving process.

The American electric vehicle manufacturer calls these systems “Autopilot”, “Enhanced Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving”, which certainly adds to the confusion of what a Tesla with one of these systems engaged is genuinely capable of.

2024 Tesla Model 3 driving

However, none of these three technologies is a truly “autonomous” system, and all of them still require the driver to have their hands on the steering wheel and their eyes fully focused on the road while in control of the vehicle.

Both Tesla and Apple have yet to officially comment or respond to the viral videos.

For its part, Apple explicitly warns in its user guide against wearing the headset while driving.

Apple Vision Pro headset on display

Tesla, meanwhile, says that drivers should “always maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle”, even if the car is running in what it calls the “autonomous” modes.

Not VR, it’s “spatial computing”

Although certain modes of the Apple Vision Pro headset, which is not yet on sale in the UK, allow the wearer to see through the glass, there are obvious severe restricted visibility and driver distraction implications about using the simulation gear when at the wheel of a moving vehicle.

Indeed, Apple itself doesn’t refer to the technology as “virtual reality”, instead calling it “spatial computing”.

In a recent blog post, it has told any developers of software for the device that it wants them to avoid referring to any of the recognised terms — such as “augmented reality (AR)”, VR, “extended reality (ER)” or “mixed reality (MR)” — when marketing their products.

Further videos have appeared online showing people wearing the headset when travelling on the New York subway and working out at the gym.

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