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Clot-o-pilot: Tesla Autopilot helps sick man navigate to hospital

A man claims his Tesla's semi-autonomous driving systems helped him get to the hospital while suffering from a pulmonary embolism.

I think it's safe to say that "don't try this at home" definitely applies here.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

There are all sorts of things Tesla would prefer you not try with its Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system. Of those things, "Driving to the hospital when you should probably pull over" likely sits atop the list. Yet, one man claims he made it to hospital with Autopilot's help, faster than an ambulance would have managed.

Joshua Neally, an attorney in Springfield, Massachusetts, was driving his Tesla Model X on the highway when he started experiencing serious pain. A malady left him with pain, sporadic blindness and difficulty breathing. Neally allegedly turned on the Autopilot and started heading toward the hospital. The vehicle kept driving down the highway until Neally felt fine enough to take control and complete the last leg himself.

As it turned out, Neally had a pulmonary embolism, which is an arterial blockage in the lungs. He was given blood thinners and sent home. Neally says he did throw conventional wisdom out the window when he decided to let Autopilot handle the highway driving instead of pulling over, but he believes he made it to the hospital faster than if he'd stopped and called an ambulance.

While this story does have a happy ending, I will nevertheless note that Autopilot is not a substitute for an attentive human driver. The car can ask the driver to take control without much warning, and others that have placed too much reliance on Autopilot have much sadder stories attached to their names. What Neally did was equally as dangerous as it was impressive, but even he points out to the Springfield News-Leader that Autopilot is "more like the ultimate cruise control."

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