Tesla has come under fire for its Autopilot feature after a fatal traffic accident earlier this year. The same feature might have just saved the life of a Missouri man who suffered a pulmonary embolism by driving him to a local hospital.
In late July, Joshua Neally left work and began to drive home in his week-old Tesla Model X, activating the Autopilot feature when he entered the highway. Miles down the road, he felt "the most excruciating pain [he’s] ever had," in his chest, and after calling his wife, decided to go to the nearest emergency room. Neally allowed the car to continue driving on the highway for the next 20 miles, before taking over and guiding the vehicle the remaining couple of miles to the hospital, where he checked himself into the emergency room.
Neally noted that he probably should have simply called an ambulance, and potentially could have put other drivers at risk by continuing to drive. However, the autopilot kept the car in his lane when the embolism occurred, and as he made his way to the hospital.
The incident serves as a counterpoint to the accident in Florida that took the life of driver Joshua Brown, where his vehicle failed to see a tractor trailer truck that had crossed its path. Slate noted that Neally’s incident isn’t the first time that a Tesla feature has likely saved lives: there have been instances where the cars have automatically stopped for pedestrians, or where the vehicle has moved out of the way of another car or truck.
For his part, Neally noted that he trusted the car to help, saying that if he had fallen unconscious, it would have steered to the side of the road. "It's not going to be perfect, there's no technology thats perfect, but I think the measure is that it's better and safer."