au·​to·​pi·​lot | \ ˈȯ-tō-ˌpī-lət How to pronounce autopilot (audio) \

Definition of autopilot

1 : a device for automatically steering ships, aircraft, and spacecraft also : the automatic control provided by such a device

Examples of autopilot in a Sentence

an airplane equipped with an autopilot The plane was flying on autopilot.
Recent Examples on the Web On the other, the plane was on autopilot almost the whole way. The Economist, "Lexington How Pennsylvania’s governor is battling the pandemic," 11 June 2020 That which was once autopilot now requires us to keep our hands on the wheel and pay attention. Natasha Preskey,, "This Is Why You Find Zoom Calls So Tiring," 3 May 2020 When even getting the groceries involves a 15-step containment process and constant proximity vigilance, there is no autopilot. Sarah Wendell, Washington Post, "For a lot of book lovers, rereading old favorites is the only reading they can manage at the moment," 2 May 2020 Tesla is offering an update that lets its cars autopilot program recognize stop signs and traffic lights. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "“Do-something-itis” is the impulse behind all these coronavirus projects," 28 Apr. 2020 An autopilot package is now standard, which doesn’t mean it’s entirely self driving (yet!), but has some extra autonomous features like automatic lane changes. Rachel Rothman, Good Housekeeping, "The Best New Family Cars of 2020," 22 Apr. 2020 In 2016, for example, a human driver decided to use a Tesla car’s autopilot function – which is designed for highway use – on a city street. Kevin O’kelly, The Christian Science Monitor, "Artificial Intelligence still has a long way to go," 7 Apr. 2020 With a fleet of nearly 800,000 autopilot-equipped cars on the road, Tesla has recorded data from, by one analyst’s estimate, 1.8 billion miles of driving. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Tesla Could Deliver ‘Full Self Driving’ Within Weeks. Here’s What That Means for Drivers—and Tesla’s Stock," 20 Nov. 2019 The plane was flying from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China, when the plane’s pilots, Shah and his co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, switched off the autopilot and took manual control of the plane. Tim Pearce, Washington Examiner, "Australian ex-prime minister says missing passenger jet likely mass murder-suicide," 19 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'autopilot.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of autopilot

1916, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for autopilot

Time Traveler

The first known use of autopilot was in 1916

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Statistics for autopilot

Last Updated

18 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Autopilot.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for autopilot


How to pronounce autopilot (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of autopilot

: a device that steers a ship, aircraft, or spacecraft in place of a person

More from Merriam-Webster on autopilot

Spanish Central: Translation of autopilot Encyclopedia article about autopilot

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