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Tesla Autopilot Reportedly Drives Stricken Man To Emergency Room

(CBS SF) – A Missouri man who owns a Tesla Model X reportedly used the vehicle's semi-autonomous Autopilot feature to help drive him to an emergency room.

According to Slate, Joshua Neally left work early and was driving to his home in Branson for his daughter's birthday. Several minutes into the drive, Neally felt a sharp, persistent pain in his abdomen that he described as a like "a steel pole through my chest."

The 37-year-old attorney called his wife, who said he should go to the emergency room. Neally said he directed the car's Autopilot to drive 20 miles down a highway to a hospital. Slate reported that Neally did not remember much of the drive, except for manually steering the Model X into the hospital parking lot.

Neally checked himself into the emergency room and was treated for a pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal blockage of a blood vessel in the lungs. Doctors reportedly told Neally that he was lucky to have survived. He recovered enough to go home later that night.

Autopilot was released to drivers last year and allows the car to automatically steer, change lanes and adjust speed due to traffic conditions.

The semi-autonomous driving feature has faced increased scrutiny following a fatal crash in Florida of a vehicle in Autopilot. Federal investigators have launched an investigation into the crash and at least two other incidents where Autopilot may be infolved.

Meanwhile, Consumer Reports wants Autopilot renamed and the auto steering feature disabled.

The attorney acknowledged that it may have been more prudent to pull over and call an ambulance in his situation.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the Palo Alto-based automaker is working on software improvements to Autopilot, but did not specify when cars would be updated. The automaker has also refused calls to disable the feature.

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