Technology brings its share of fun. Whether it is to improve the on-board experience or passenger safety, car manufacturers regularly take advantage of advances in the technological world to improve their vehicles. Often, manufacturers must also find ways to ensure that high-tech innovations do not make driving a car more dangerous. They will soon have to supervise virtual reality headsets, because it is now more common than ever to notice drivers using this technology while driving their cars. This is a situation that worries the authorities.
A headset that blends reality and reality
Apple launched its first virtual reality headset called Vision Pro in the US a few weeks ago. The gadget allows you to navigate a digital environment by simply installing it on the user's head. A bit like alpine ski goggles, the Vision Pro goggles are bulky and intrusive on the face, especially as they increase the level of distraction. While some devices make use of transparent lenses to allow people to see through them, Apple's new headset uses cameras to record the scene in front of the user, and add virtual content to create a 3D world consisting of scenes from the real universe and virtual content.
Reminder — All advanced driver assistance systems available today require that the human driver be in control and fully engaged in the driving task at all times. pic.twitter.com/OpPy36mOgC
-Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) February 5, 2024
Disturbing viral video
Promising virtual reality headsets may once again find themselves at the center of a rather disturbing scandal. Photos of people using Apple's new Vision Pro while driving caught the attention of US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, as well as the agency under his department that regulates highway safety.
In the video, we can see a motorist navigating through the virtual menus of his helmet, while driving his Tesla Cybertruck. It seems that the technology enthusiasts do not notice that the car driver next to him is filming him, which makes us doubt whether the driver is actually focusing on the road.
The US Secretary of Transportation reiterated in a post on X that all vehicles for sale in the US require human drivers to be fully engaged at all times and ready to take control of the steering wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) followed suit, ruling that driving with helmets was “reckless” and disregarding every person on the road.
Problem in Canada?
Although Canada has not recently issued any warnings about using virtual reality headsets and driving on the road, Canadian technology experts have focused on the noise and the potential for drivers to use these devices while flying.
The result was almost unanimous, indicating that using such a device when driving a car is not strongly recommended. Partially automated driving systems, like those found in Tesla cars, are available to consumers in Canada, putting the responsibility for safety on the driver, experts added.
In an interview in CTV NewsCanadian law requires the driver to be responsible for controlling the vehicle at all times and prohibits distracted driving, said Bruce Hellinga, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Waterloo. This legislation confirms that the framework surrounding virtual reality headsets is not yet sufficiently developed, and that changes are expected regarding the operation of the devices.
For its part, Apple has not yet commented on the videos. The company pointed to safety guidelines on its website that discourage the use of its device while operating a moving vehicle, but did not indicate whether the Vision Pro device, expected soon in Canada, would get an update that would address the issue.
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