au·​to·​pi·​lot | \ˈȯ-tō-ˌpī-lət \

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

Just then an alarm sounds for 2.2 seconds, indicating that the autopilot is disconnecting. Jeff Wise, Popular Mechanics, "What Really Happened Aboard Air France 447," 6 Dec. 2011 With the labor market firing on all cylinders and with inflation at the Fed’s 2% target, the central bank will put policy on autopilot unless something—perhaps an escalating trade confrontation—comes along to disrupt its plans, the economists said. David Harrison, WSJ, "Economists in New Survey See Federal Reserve on Autopilot," 12 July 2018 More than 220 people died in 2009 when an Air France plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean after the autopilot malfunctioned and crew error caused the plane to stall. Bree Burkitt, azcentral, "Self-driving Uber fatal crash: Experts say prosecution would be precedent setting," 22 June 2018 Immediately after takeoff, the drivers retracted the landing gear and switched on the autopilot; the three airplanes turned eastward and climbed at a gentle 3,000 feet a minute, doing a relatively sedate 320 miles an hour. William Langewiesche, The Atlantic, "An Extraordinarily Expensive Way to Fight ISIS," 21 June 2018 This season Davis has a chance to become the face of a unit that seemingly churns out NFL talent on autopilot. Chris Johnson And Eric Single,, "Top 100 College Football Players of 2018: Nos. 30-11," 20 June 2018 The autopilot is said to feature a recovery mode that allows a pilot to take hands off the controls allowing the aircraft systems to stabilize the rotorcraft in a difficult situation. Gordon Dickson, star-telegram, "Do you wish helicopters were quieter? Check out this new Airbus model | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 16 Mar. 2018 At least two Tesla drivers have died while behind the wheel of a car on autopilot, but Herzberg was the first pedestrian fatality of an autonomous vehicle, or AV. Betsy Morais, Longreads, "The Menace and the Promise of Autonomous Vehicles," 13 June 2018 LeBron would be granted the luxury of having his workload cut down tremendously and could play on autopilot throughout the rest of his career—winning title after title. The Crossover Staff,, "What's LeBron's Best Option This Summer? Debating 10 Teams and One Crazy Idea," 5 June 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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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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