A viral video of a motorist seeming to let Tesla’s new Cybertruck drive itself while wearing the new Apple Vision Pro headset is sounding alarm alarm bells at the highest levels of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Despite their names, Tesla’s assisted driving features — Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self-Driving — do not mean the vehicles are fully autonomous, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said Monday 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,” Buttigieg posted on X (formerly Twitter).
Buttigieg’s tweet came in reply to a video that had more than 24 million views of a Tesla driver taking his hands off the steering wheel while apparently controlling a virtual reality display of the kind used by Apple’s Vision Pro. The 23-second clip was posted on February 2, the day the pricey Vision Pro hit stores shelves in the U.S.
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. pic.twitter.com/OpPy36mOgC
— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) February 5, 2024
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company specifically cautions against using the Vision Pro while driving in its users guide. Tesla also did not respond to a request for comment.
The electric automaker in December recalled more than 2 million vehicles across its model lineup to fix a defective system that is supposed to ensure drivers are paying attention when they use the Autopilot feature.
Apple Vision Pro headset presale begins 03:49
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2021 launched an investigation into Tesla over crashes that resulted in more than a dozen fatalities involving Tesla’s driver-assisted features. The agency late last year told CBS News its probe found Autopilot’s means of ensuring drivers are paying attention to be inadequate.
Autopilot can steer, accelerate and brake automatically in its lane, but can’t drive itself. In a report filed with NHTSA, Tesla said Autopilot’s controls “may not be sufficient to prevent driver misuse.”
Kate Gibson is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch in New York.
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