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Tesla Model X drives Missouri man to nearby emergency room

Does this example prove that Autopilot saves lives?

Seatbelts save lives. This is a fact, proven over the years since Volvo first equipped some of its vehicles with the three-point belt that we still use today. That was way back in 1959, which means the public has had plenty of time to recognize the benefits of this well-known and understood piece of safety equipment. In a similar vein, Tesla has made claims that its Autopilot system also saves lives. An article from Slate asks the obvious question: Should we believe it?

The above analogy that compares seatbelts to Autopilot may be applicable, but it's far from perfect. Whereas belts are a simple bit of kit that improves safety after an accident has occurred, Autopilot and other self-driving vehicle technologies seek to prevent accidents from ever happening. Tesla's system uses advanced technology that includes cameras, radar, ultra-sonic sensors, and lots of software code. If that sounds complicated, that's because it is.

The Slate article referenced above offers one anecdotal example of Autopilot's potential life-saving capabilities. While on his way home from work, Joshua Neally suffered a pulmonary embolism. Instead of pulling over and calling for an ambulance, Neally let Autopilot keep control of his Tesla Model X until he could direct it off a highway exit to a nearby emergency room.

This example, at least on the surface, serves as an intriguing counterpoint to the case of Joshua Brown, who died in a crash when Tesla's Autopilot failed to detect a tractor trailer ahead. As Slate says, Neally's experience "doesn't prove Autopilot's worth as a safety feature any more than Brown's death disproves it." That said, the entire story from Slate is worth a read. Head on over, and when you're back, let us know what you think.

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