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Man says Tesla Autopilot saved his life by driving him to the hospital

Tesla Model X is presented during a launch event in Fremont, California last September.
Susana Bates | AFP | Getty Images
Tesla Model X is presented during a launch event in Fremont, California last September.

A Missouri man says his Tesla helped saved his life by driving him to the hospital during a life-threatening emergency.

Joshua Neally is a lawyer and Tesla owner from Springfield, Missouri, who often uses the semi-autonomous driving system called Autopilot on his Tesla Model X.

The system has come under fire after it was involved in a fatal Florida crash in May, but Neally told online magazine Slate that Autopilot drove him 20 miles down a freeway to a hospital, while Neally suffered a potentially fatal blood vessel blockage in his lung, known as a pulmonary embolism. The hospital was right off the freeway exit, and Neally was able to steer the car the last few meters and check himself into the emergency room, the report said.

Tesla's Autopilot technology has been cited in both the May crash, and a second non-fatal crash in Montana in June. Both the National Highway Transportation Safety Commission and the National Traffic Safety Board have investigated the Florida crash, and the Securities and Exchange Commission reportedly looked into whether Tesla broke securities law by failing to disclose information about the May accident before an equity offering.

And this week, a group of researchers said they figured out how to hack into the Autopilot system and jam the radar to prevent it from seeing an object in front of it, according to Wired. It is not easy to do, but it is possible that a hacker could exploit that to cause a high-speed collision, researchers said.

The group, from the University of South Carolina, China's Zhejiang University and the Chinese security firm Qihoo 360, plans to detail their tests this week at the Defcon hacker conference, Wired reported.

The company has resisted calls to disable the feature or change its name, including one from Consumer Reports. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has said that Autopilot drives more cautiously than humans.

Read Neally's full story at Slate.

Read about the hack at Wired.