Tesla’s Autopilot feature has been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent weeks after it was revealed that the feature was enabled during a fatal accident in Florida back in May. The latest headlining story involving the autonomous driving feature, however, has a much happier ending.
Late last month, 37-year-old lawyer Joshua Neally got in his new Model X, left his law firm and hit the highway to begin his 45-minute commute to his home in Springfield, Missouri, to celebrate his daughter’s fourth birthday.
As Slate notes, Neally turned on Autopilot – a decision that may have saved his life.
About five miles outside of Springfield, Neally felt something tighten in his abdomen. The pain, which he described as feeling like “a steel pole” through his chest, never subsided. Neally said he remembers calling his wife and they both agreed he should go to the emergency room ASAP.
Neally said he doesn’t remember much of the remaining drive but managed to reroute the Model X to the nearest hospital more than 20 miles away. Once off the highway, he was somehow able to manually drive to the nearby hospital and check himself in.
Doctors said he suffered a pulmonary embolism, an often fatal blood clot in the body that moves to the lungs. Doctors told him he was lucky to be alive.
Whether or not the Autopilot feature actually saved his life is debatable as, in retrospect, Neally admits that pulling over and calling for an ambulance might have been the smarter move. Then again, had he been in full control of the vehicle when the first wave of pain hit, he could have easily lost control of the vehicle and crashed. What’s more, waiting for an ambulance in rush hour traffic may have taken longer than him just driving straight to the hospital.