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

The new helicopter has 100 horsepower more than the old helicopter and autopilot to help pilots fly in the clouds. Miles Blumhardt, The Denver Post, "Summer can be challenging for Loveland medical chopper crews," 6 July 2019 Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg via Getty Images A driver in Nottingham, England has been banned from driving for 18 months after giving his Tesla’s autopilot a little too much responsibility. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "U.K. Tesla Driver Gets 18-Month Driving Ban For Trusting Autopilot Way Too Much," 29 Apr. 2018 After a drubbing of Texas Tech, U-M’s autopilot ride through the College World Series will continue in the best-of-three finals beginning Monday night. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan baseball's stunning journey hits final stage: On brink of championship," 21 June 2019 These days any old schlub can pilot a drone without cratering it, what with good old autopilot tech, but there are drone pilots out there whose abilities push the limits of human cognition. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Watch Out, Pro Racers: These Drones Just Learned to Fly Solo," 27 June 2018 That means the trucks will be on autopilot for the vast majority of their highway journeys. Ron Hurtibise,, "Driverless big rigs could be hitting Florida highways next year. Are you ready, good buddy?," 13 June 2019 So far, Tesla’s autopilot mode has caused several high-profile crashes on public roads, including fatal accidents in Florida and California. Betsy Morais, Longreads, "The Menace and the Promise of Autonomous Vehicles," 13 June 2018 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation last week into a crash involving a Tesla Model S. The vehicle was in autopilot mode when the accident had occurred, the driver reportedly told authorities. Peter Holley,, "Pravda: Elon Musk's solution for punishing journalists," 24 May 2018 Because fatal crashes of autopilot-equipped vehicles are newsworthy. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "Elon Musk’s Silly War With the Media," 24 May 2018

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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Statistics for autopilot

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for autopilot

The first known use of autopilot was in 1916

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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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