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Unpopular Opinion: Apple Should Ban Vision Pro Access for People Wearing One While Driving

Years after Apple reinvented the smartphone, legislation finally caught up to ban phone use while driving. The Cupertino company launched the Vision Pro, and we're back to square one, with many people trying to drive with the goggles on.
Driving the Cybertruck while wearing an Apple Vision Pro headset 6 photos
Photo: @blakestonks via X
Driving the Cybertruck while wearing an Apple Vision Pro headsetDriving the Cybertruck while wearing an Apple Vision Pro headsetDriving the Cybertruck while wearing an Apple Vision Pro headsetDriving the Cybertruck while wearing an Apple Vision Pro headsetDriving the Cybertruck while wearing an Apple Vision Pro headset
On February 2, Apple started shipping the Vision Pro, a mixed-reality headset that aims to reinvent the AR/VR headsets. While some talked about it as the greatest piece of technology of the last decade, others consider it not much different from other VR headsets on the market, likely to be abandoned in a few years unless Apple invents some ground-breaking use-case scenarios. Still, the Vision Pro can potentially disrupt the world as we know it, and not always for the right reasons.

The Vision Pro's success is not really important, except maybe for Apple and those who paid $3,499. What's more important is that it can be used in ways that Apple probably never thought of. Some of them could become quite dangerous, putting people's lives at risk. We've already seen a guy driving his Tesla while wearing the Vision Pro headset hours after the deliveries started. In that case, a Tesla Model Y was involved, and the driver had the excuse of using Full Self-Driving to compensate for the distraction.

What Apple calls "spatial computing" doesn't play nice with another computer in Tesla EVs, namely the Autopilot computer. For once, the Apple Vision Pro has a narrow field of view, which is inappropriate for driving a car. This has been one of the major complaints of people who got to test Apple's VR goggles. Driving without being fully aware of your surroundings is like piloting a jet fighter into a dogfight while only looking at the screens in the cockpit.

Wearing the Apple Vision Pro while driving: are you a "glasshole"?

This is why the Apple Vision Pro hasn't been designed to be used while driving. Apple makes no secret of it, and that's why it includes a special warning in the user's guide. "Never use Apple Vision Pro while operating a moving vehicle, bicycle, heavy machinery, or in any other situations requiring attention to safety," writes the warning, but it's clearly insufficient.

People who think Tesla Full Self-Driving will keep them safe while playing in their virtual world are delusional. As Tesla makes it clear with many warnings and checkboxes, neither Autopilot nor Full Self-Driving can drive safely without human supervision. And human supervision is hardly achievable with these ridiculous goggles strapped to your head.

Couple Autopilot and Vision Pro, and you have a disaster waiting to happen. Not only because you cannot see through it the way you see without it. The Vision Pro can also be distracting, much more than any smartphone. And this is by design, or you wouldn't want to use one. This is something people fail to grasp when putting their lives at stake while trying to show off on the road.

In another video shared on social media, things went further downhill. This time, the driver wearing a Vision Pro was behind the wheel of a Tesla Cybertruck. In the geek world, this is the coolest combination right now, but not from the safety perspective. Unlike the Model Y, the Cybertruck doesn't yet have a working Autopilot, let alone Full Self Driving. As such, the truck must be actively driven, and an Apple Vision Pro helmet is not helping.

However, the video shows the Cybertruck driver performing the unmistakable hand moves that have become representative of using a Vision Pro helmet. Even though the Vision Pro has a passthrough feature that lets you see behind the virtual screens, it's via a virtual display, thus having its own limitations.

Apple needs to step up its safety game

One of them is latency, as the images captured by the cameras must go through the image processor before being displayed. Another one is the virtual screen itself. If anything goes wrong, it simply disappears, and you're in the dark. That's right, there is no way the light goes directly through the Vision Pro headset.

This is why wearing a VR device while driving is not only silly but also incredibly dangerous. Unlike smartphones, the Vision Pro is not only distracting, but it also impedes vision. This can cause an accident, potentially killing you and other people. Apple and carmakers need to do something and need to do it fast to prevent the worst from happening.

Legislation will also have to adjust to the new tech, but this also has its own latency. It will take time before someone writes a law requiring drivers not to wear a VR headset. We already know how long legislation took to ban phone use while driving, and it's still imperfect. The same will need to happen for Apple Vision Pro and others alike.

Apple has baked some failsafes into the Vision Pro, which is why the VR headset doesn't let you use it while walking. However, it's a different story for driving. Because the Travel Mode is meant for use in an airplane, you can activate it while driving. The Vision Pro doesn't have a clue whether you're driving a vehicle or sitting on the back bench. This needs to change.

Apple must quickly figure out how to prevent its Vision Pro from being used while driving. This should not be hard, especially as the device's cameras see the road "moving" in front and, undoubtedly, the steering wheel. Tesla and other carmakers could also train their cabin cameras to recognize the VR headset and not work when the driver is wearing one. Otherwise, we'll see more of these "glassholes" risking their lives (and ours) while trying to look cool.
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About the author: Cristian Agatie
Cristian Agatie profile photo

After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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