A Tesla Model X owner was saved by the autopilot feature of his car in Missouri last month.
Joshua Neally, 37, is an attorney in Missouri who suffered a pulmonary embolism on his way back home from work. While he was driving on the highway, he enabled the autopilot system of the car to push him through.
After some miles, Neally felt a pain in his chest and after calling his wife, he decided to go to the closest hospital. Instead of waiting for an ambulance, he let his car drive for about 30 km until it reached an exit off the highway and took control of the vehicle to a near hospital in Branson. After entering the emergency room, he was treated and survived the pulmonary embolism, a situation that makes 50000 to 200000 lives a year.
Although the owner had to drive the last couple of meters to the hospital, it is to be noted that the whole trajectory in the highway was driven by the car with its autopilot system. Tesla’s autopilot feature allows the car to accelerate, brake and steer by itself and is only able to use on long distances of freeway driving.
It is not the first time Tesla’s autopilot feature has been involved in uncommon situations
Back in May, there was a car crash in Florida where the Tesla’s autopilot system was involved. In the incident the owner of the vehicle, Joshua Brown, lost his life when the car did not see a tractor-trailer truck that was in its way, causing the accident. This made The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to look into the cause of the crash.
— Teslaliving (@teslaliving) August 8, 2016
Another incident occurred in Montana in June where a Tesla Model S veered off the road and hit wooden posts. This time, the passengers were not injured in the accident.
Three federal investigations have been opened against Tesla. The National Transportation Safety Board was inspecting to determine if the autopilot technology was a hazard to safety.
Apart from the accidents involving the autopilot system, there has been situations, besides the case of Neally, where the feature has likely saved lives such as avoiding obstacles or other vehicles or stopping for pedestrians.
Another problem to Tesla
According to Wired, a group of researchers from the University of South Carolina, Zhejiang University of China and the Chinese security firm Qihoo 360, figured a way to hack a car’s autopilot system, making it not to see an object on its way. Even though it is not an easy thing to do, the researchers say a hacker could take advantage of this and cause traffic accidents. The group is planning to present their tests to the Defcon hacker conference.