Joshua Neally, a 37-year-old attorney in Springfield, Missouri claims his recently purchased Tesla Model X saved his life. After suddenly becoming engulfed in pain, not being able to see or drive properly, Mr. Neally quickly activated the Autopilot feature and basically left his car drive itself all the way to the nearest hospital, more than 20 miles away.
“Car, to the hospital quickly!”
In May, Tesla came under serious fire after a Tesla Model S driver was killed in an accident while Autopilot was on. It’s not clear yet if Tesla is responsible in any way for the unfortunate fatality, but a government investigation is underway.
It’s worth noting that Tesla’s Autopilot is an experimental feature, cut with a lot of legal fine tape. Even so, the company claims there have been fewer accidents involving Tesla’s cars on Autopilot than there ought to be otherwise, statistically speaking mile per mile. Later, Electrek reported a pedestrian’s life was saved by Autopilot’s Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), and most recently news outlets reported the story of Neally.
It was July 26 when Neally was commuting home for his daughter’s birthday when a sudden spasm of intense pain struck his chest and abdomen. The Tesla owner reported the pain was so severe he had bouts of blindness. Clearly, he was in no condition to drive, but he did manage to muster enough strength to order his Model X to drive him to the nearest hospital. He reasoned this would be faster than calling for an ambulance. The car obliged and took him to the off-ramp near a hospital in Branson. At this point, Neally took control of the vehicle and steered it for the final stretch and quickly found himself in ER.
Neally later found out from a doctor that he suffered a pulmonary embolism, a medical condition that blocks the artery and kills around 50,000 each year. The doctor told him he was fortunate to be alive.
This episode is quite inspiring and will likely bring Tesla some much needed positive PR following the unfortunate fatal Tesla accident which involved Autopilot. Yet again, Tesla Motors stresses that Autopilot is an experimental feature designed to work solely on highways where traffic is predictable and the car can easily coordinate itself. In this particular incident, Neally was lucky enough to find himself on a motorway when his pulmonary embolism struck, but had he been in the middle of a busy town the Autopilot couldn’t have helped him. All the more reason, maybe, for Tesla to roll out Autopilot 2.0 — but very, very carefully. Right now, thousands of Tesla drivers are willing participating in a huge experiment, recording millions of miles and terabytes of data for Tesla. How the company will intend to use this data will remain to be seen.
Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!