The hidden driver was controlling the 2017 Ford Transit Connect by holding the bottom of the steering wheel. That light bar would start blinking when the auto stopped at a red light - and stopped blinking when the light turned green and the vehicle began to move again.
Virginia Tech has since claimed responsibility for the "driverless" auto and Arlington County Police Department tweeted out news of the automated vehicle testing late on Monday.
However, when testing autonomous vehicles, tech companies usually deploy a human overseer to make sure the auto doesn't go rogue and starts running over old ladies crossing the street. When he approached, he noticed the driver's seat had two hands and two legs.
The driver, who would not give his name, could see out, but no one could see him. "I'm with the news, dude", Tuss said.
"Brother, who are you?"
The publication discovered it was all part of autonomous auto research being undertaken by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which we assume had something to do with gauging the average motorist's reaction to a truly driverless vehicle. What are you doing?
A "driverless" van has been making headline in Arlington, Va., but it turns out a man dressed as a vehicle seat as part of a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute experiment.
The van was tested for several months to ensure that the camouflaged driver would still be able to safely monitor their surroundings while in disguise, the institute said.
It was definitely a shocking moment for Tuss.
While investigating the mysterious van, NBC Washington's Adam Tuss, realized a man dressed in a auto seat costume was actually behind the wheel of the vehicle. "How's that possible? Your brain can't get around it for a second".