Tesla’s Autopilot Drives Man to Hospital. Did it Save his Life?
Tesla’s Autopilot system has had its share of controversies, including a series of high-profile crashes that have led some people to question the technology’s reliability. Needless to say, Tesla needed some form of good publicity for the Autopilot system. The automaker may have found it in 37-year old lawyer Joshua Neally, who credits the polarizing technology for getting him to a hospital during a medical emergency that almost cost him his life.
Speaking with Slate, Neally recalls making one of his daily 45-minute commutes from his workplace in Springfield, Missouri to his house in Branson, Missouri. On that particular day in late July, Neally said he felt comfortable using the Autopilot system of his Model X to make the drive home. Five minutes into his journey, he felt a sharp pain in his abdomen that moved its way to his chest. Fearing that something was seriously wrong, Neally was able to reroute the Model X’s navigation system to a hospital that was 20-something miles away and according to him, the system got him to the emergency room in time for him to get medical treatment.
Doctors eventually diagnosed him with a pulmonary embolism, an obstruction of a blood vessel in his lungs that could have led to his death had he not gotten to the ER on time. The harrowing ordeal had a happy ending because the Autopilot system did its job, or at least that’s what the lawyer believes. He did admit that in hindsight, it might have been better if he had just pulled over and called 911 but in the heat of the moment, as he was writhing in agonizing pain, he put his faith on the Model X’s Autopilot system and it delivered.
Whether the technology saved Neally’s life is a discussion in and of itself, nobody would disagree that it played a significant part in him being alive today to tell the story.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
Why it matters
With Tesla under so much fire over the Autopilot’s perceived lack of reliability, it needed a story like this to breath some fresh air back into the technology. It’s no surprise that once he got word of Joshua Neally’s story, Tesla CEO Elon Musk pounced on it, retweeting to his 4.7 million Twitter followers a story posted by KY3 News in Springfield, Missouri about Neally’s ordeal.
Here’s the question though: did the Autopilot system really save the 37-year old lawyer’s life?
I can’t say the Autopilot system was singularly responsible for saving Neally’s life, but it did play a significant part in allowing Neally to get to the hospital without him having to drive himself there while in agonising pain. The Autopilot system played a role in that and for what it’s worth, we have to give the technology credit for it, especially if we’re going to blame the system for the crashes that have occurred. Let’s call a spade a spade and give credit where it’s due.That said, this incident doesn’t wash away all the prior occurrences wherein the Autopilot system was alleged to have malfunctioned. Tesla still needs to improve on the system, which it admits it’s currently doing.
What this tells us, though, is that there are benefits to the Autopilot system, something that I’m sure Joshua Neally will attest to.
Read our full review on the Tesla Model X here.