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Driverless car or ghost? Drive-through prank video goes viral

January 11, 2013|By David Undercoffler

Bad news for Audi, Lexus, Google, and other companies keen on developing driverless cars: you've been beaten to the punch.

A video making the rounds on YouTube shows a driverless car pulling into the drive-through of various fast food restaurants, causing plenty of alarm and confusion among the people working the window.

The catch: there's actually a hidden driver.

The man behind the video prank is 24-year-old magician Rahat Hossain. Hossain, who lives in Virgina Beach, Va., has a YouTube channel called Magic of Rahat. The channel features dozens of videos with him using optical-illusion tricks to prank unsuspecting passersby and fast food employees working the drive-through window.

In one video, he uses invisible string to make a cup appear as it's levitating next to the steering wheel. Another shows a dollar bill floating in the air as he stops and asks people for directions. Most of the videos have hundreds of thousands of views, though a few standouts have millions of pageviews.

But the 'Drive Thru Invisible Driver Prank' is Hossain's most popular video yet, with more than 10 million views as of Friday morning. In this video, Hossain sits in the driver's seat of his 2006 Nissan Altima, covered with a fake seat cover costume that makes it look like no one is behind the wheel. He then drives the car up to the pickup window of numerous fast-food restaurants and records the reactions of employees working the window.

Responses range from laughter to outright alarm. One employee can be seen repeatedly opening and closing the drive-up window as if to reset what he was -- or wasn't -- seeing in the car. Another starts laughing and then ends up crying.

Hossain said no one figured out his trick; most employees thought it was simply someone sitting in the back seat driving the car. "Once the empty car rolls by they have no idea how to react," Hossain said. "Their main focus is who the heck is driving this car; how did it just roll up the window like that?"

The costume took about a day to construct; Hossain made it from a seat cover he bought at AutoZone. He says he bought a second seat cover for the passenger seat, so it matches his costume for additional camouflage. The costume extends to about his knees and covers his arms completely.

The idea came to Hossain after he saw a photo online of a guy who had rigged a similar setup to use for pranking people on the highway. Hossain said he figured doing the prank in a drive-through was a much safer alternative.

Hossain posted the video on Jan. 9, and it quickly went viral, amassing 10.3 million views and garnering mentions in media like ABC News. The full-time magician and prankster said he's thrilled with the reaction.

"It's very overwhelming but also very, very exciting to see it get this kind of exposure," Hossain said. "I've had a few other videos that have gone viral, but nothing to this extent. I keep telling myself to wake up."


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