Tesla's autopilot helps drive man to ER

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Although Tesla Motors' autopilot technology has been the butt of some debate lately — just how "auto" is it, and should drivers trust it? — the autopilot in one man's Tesla Model X helped him get to a nearby ER when disaster struck.

Joshua Neally was leaving his Springfield, Mo.-based law office when severe chest pains rendered him incapable of operating his car on his own, according to a report from Local KY3 News. Despite directing most of his attention toward the pain in his chest, which later turned out to be due to pulmonary embolism, Mr. Neally was able to have his electric car guide him most of the way to a nearby hospital, before he took over to navigate the last couple of blocks on his own.

The autopilot function requires drivers to make contact with the wheel every so often, according to a report from The Guardian. Had Mr. Neally been unconscious, the outcome may have been different, as the cars are designed to pull over and stop if a driver is unresponsive.

Other drivers have not been so lucky. In May a driver using Tesla's autopilot in Florida was killed when the computer failed to recognize an 18-wheeler and turned into it. In another crash that took place in July on a Pennsylvania turnpike, a driver who took over control of his vehicle moments after it was on autopilot crashed and was hospitalized. Statements from Tesla maintain the autopilot function is designed to have driver input, and makes regular checks to ensure a driver's hands remain on the steering wheel. 

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