The viral video of a man wearing a new Apple Vision Pro virtual reality (VR) headset while driving a Tesla Cybertruck has gotten the attention of the US government – but now it seems the video may have been staged by the driver himself.
The video, which was posted on X Friday, the same day Apple launched its first-of-its-kind $3,499 virtual reality headset, has been viewed at least 24 million times and has spread across multiple social platforms.
Now, rumored to be just a prank, the viral clip still raised the hackles of US officials on Capitol Hill over safety concerns, prompting government alarm.
US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg posted his own warning about the foolish video on Monday afternoon.
“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 said on X.
Social media prankster capitalizes on Vision Pro mania
Rumors about whether the 25-second video titled “Apple Vision Pro + Tesla Self Driving” was staged started popping up on social media about the same time as Buttigieg's comments.
The video shows a man in the driver's seat wearing a VR headset while the Cybertruck cruises down the highway in what appears to be full self-driving mode (an entirely other controversial issue plaguing Tesla).
The driver has his hands raised in the air and fingers moving in front of the windshield, appearing to be manipulating a virtual desktop, one of the main features of the Apple Vision Pro.
About half way through the video the truck is stopped, and a police car with flashing lights is seen in the distance insinuating the man got pulled over on a traffic stop because of the headset.
Apparently the driver, Dante Lentini, who was contacted by media about the video, confirmed the clip was a “skit” made with friends, said Gizmodo, who first reported the fabrication.
Furthermore, Lentini told Gizmodo that he was never pulled over or arrested by police and only got lucky enough to film the flashing cop car as it was stopped on the side of the road for an unrelated reason.
Still sort of disturbing, the 21-year old Lentini apparently admitted to the media outlet that he “only drove with the headset for 30-40 seconds,” more than enough time to get in a major accident.
Meantime, Apple has stated that people should never use the headset while operating a moving vehicle.
Tesla Autopilot controversy resurfaces again
Tesla’s Autopilot feature has raised concerns from the Transportation Secretary in the past.
Buttigieg has commented about the safety of the Tesla feature, which has been a hotbed issue making headlines over the past year over distracted driving, fatal accidents, and a dismissed class action lawsuit.
Tesla says its advanced driver features are intended for use with a fully attentive driver "who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment," but many Tesla owners claim they were misled by false advertising.
In December, after a two year investigation by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Tesla was forced to recall all of its two million plus vehicles on the road to install new safeguards for the Autopilot advanced driver-assistance system.
The investigation was triggered after the death of a Los Angeles driver who crashed while using a beta version of system.
The NHTSA said the Autopilot system made drivers less attentive behind the wheel causing safety concerns.
Additionally, Tesla is facing two more recalls by US safety regulators, one already triggered just this past Friday and the other expected to be issued following an expanded NHTSA investigation.
The first recall is over the size of the font on some Tesla model's dashboard warning panels, while the second investigation involves the sudden loss of steering control for Tesla drivers while on the road – some clocked going up to 75 mph.
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