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Apple Vision Pro and Tesla Autopilot: A match made in hell

Published Feb 5th, 2024 10:19AM EST
A Vision Pro user running multiple apps side-by-side.
Image: Apple Inc.

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The Apple Vision Pro launched only on Friday and we already have a video of someone using the spatial computer while driving a Tesla Cybertrick with Autopilot engaged.

That might be how we drive cars in a few years: Use head-mounted computers while the car takes us to our destination. But it’s absolutely not the way to go with what technology has to offer now. Tesla Autopilot is the subject of a major recall involving over 2 million cars, which is almost every model sold to date in the US. In other words, it still needs your undivided attention, and that’s one reason why the driver in question was arrested.

Autopilot might be one of the biggest gimmicks in technology. Sure, it can help you drive the car in certain conditions. It’s the way that Tesla markets it that’s a problem. The name itself implies that the Tesla vehicle can safely replace the driver, which is not the case. 

You still have to pay attention to the road and be ready to intervene if Autopilot fails. And it can fail, hence the big Tesla recall from December. That’s why you shouldn’t be doing anything dumb while using Tesla Autopilot, like getting your spatial computing on via the Vision Pro. 

Yet, according to a video that popped up on social media, someone did exactly that. You’ll find it on Twitter/X, Reddit, and YouTube with ease. 

As you can see in the clip, the Vision Pro user interacts with the computer while the Tesla has its self-driving feature turned on. I know the “driver” is actively using the Vision Pro rather than looking through it because they use specific hand gestures. They might be typing and scrolling on a virtual display overlaid on top of reality. 

The driver probably sees the road ahead, the traffic, and everything else, unless he placed a window that overtakes the windshield, that is. The Vision Pro’s video passthrough is remarkable. That’s something most reviews have tackled, praising the low latency lag that makes the video of your surroundings play instantly. 

The driver was reportedly arrested

Vision Pro’s video passthrough might be so good that you think you’re looking through a piece of transparent glass. But you absolutely shouldn’t use it while driving, no matter how exciting it might be.

Vision Pro reviews also show that the field of view is smaller than what your eyes see in real life. Also, the edges of the virtual screen might be blurry. Add lower-light environments, and you get one more reason why driving and using the Vision Pro is a big no-no.

Playing YouTube via Juno on the Vision Pro.
Playing YouTube via Juno on the Vision Pro. Image source: Christian Selig

Also, don’t be surprised if the police will want to talk to you. The video shows two patrol cars behind the Tesla towards the end of the clip. Is it illegal to wear the Vision Pro while driving a car? Maybe new legislation should address this particular use-case scenario.

As for the Vision Pro owner in the clip, he was apparently arrested. That’s according to Gizmodo, which reported that the Tesla driver confirmed it all on their Twitter/X account.

Apple’s safety warnings

The Vision Pro is the first stepping stone towards a future where spatial computers will look more like regular glasses. AR glasses that you might want to wear all the time, including when you’re driving.

Maybe self-driving car tech will evolve by then to actually replace the human in the car. Only in such a scenario might the “driver” be allowed to do something other than pay attention to the road. Like sleep, or use immersive gadgets like the next-gen Vision Pro variants. We’re not there yet.

Apple, meanwhile, advises against the use of Vision Pro anywhere other than the safety of a home or office:

Always remain aware of your environment and body posture during use. Apple Vision Pro is designed for use in controlled areas that are safe, on a level surface.

Do not use it around stairs, balconies, railings, glass, mirrors, sharp objects, sources of excessive heat, windows, or other hazards.

Never use Apple Vision Pro while operating a moving vehicle, bicycle, heavy machinery, or in any other situations requiring attention to safety. Using the device in low light conditions may increase the risk of collision with objects in your environment.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.