Joshua Neally had just driven his electric Model X onto a highway in the US state of Missouri when he began to feel an excruciating pain in his chest.
But instead of pulling over to call an ambulance, the lawyer opted to use the self-driving feature on his brand new car to get him to the nearest hospital.
As the vehicle approached the emergency department some 20 miles away, the 37-year-old was able to take over control of the vehicle to steer it into a parking bay.
IN OTHER NEWS: Safety of self-driving cars questioned after fatal crash
Mr Neally was subsequently diagnosed as having suffered a pulmonary embolism, a blockage in the blood vessel that takes blood from the heart to the lungs.
He has since recovered from the episode, which doctors say he was lucky to survive, though continues to receive treatment for the life-threatening complication.
The driver said that his Tesla’s self-driving technology could have stopped him having an accident in the emergency situation, adding that it could be used to save more lives in the future.
“If something like that happens where I become unconscious or incapacitated while I’m driving, I’m not going to cross over the interstate and slam into somebody or slam into one of the big rock walls,” he said.
“It’s not going to be perfect, there’s no technology that’s perfect, but I think the measure is that it’s better and safer.”
Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving setting requires drivers to make contact with the wheel of their car every 20 minutes.
The manufacturer has been under fire in recent months after a separate incident in which a US driver was killed in a crash with a lorry while using the autopilot feature.
Reports from Tesla suggest that the sensors on Joshua Brown’s Model S had failed to distinguish the white side of the lorry’s trailer from the bright sky.
The technology is currently under investigation by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the US road safety watchdog.
Tesla has said that Mr Brown had failed to use the feature correctly in the lead-up to the crash, with investigators suggesting that he may have been speeding.