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

This was less a special occasion than just another tour stop for a pop star on autopilot. Kevin Williams,, "Lollapalooza 2019: Things we loved from day 4, but Ariana Grande was a pop star on autopilot," 4 Aug. 2019 This could provide false flight data including altitude and airspeed, as well as possible access to the autopilot system, potentially leaving a pilot unable to tell whether the reading was accurate and potentially lose control of the aircraft. Kris Van Cleave, CBS News, "DHS issues hacking security alert for small planes," 30 July 2019 The alternatives to a deal are distasteful to both sides, and include freezing spending at current levels and operating most of the government essentially on autopilot under a measure known as a continuing resolution. Washington Post, "Mnuchin says budget deal with Pelosi is ‘very close’," 15 July 2019 If the pilot does not (or is unable to) take corrective action the autopilot takes over and flies the plane onto a safe flight path. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The F-35 Is Getting a Life-Saving Autopilot Feature," 24 July 2019 In China, the world’s largest auto market, the man widely known as the father of the country’s electric-car industry recently voiced doubts about vehicles zipping around entirely on autopilot. David Welchbloomberg, Los Angeles Times, "Don’t expect self-driving taxis anytime soon — GM delays Cruise robotaxi launch," 24 July 2019 The lander will essentially be on autopilot, and a computer will be in charge of firing the various thrusters and steering the lander safely down. Hari Kumar,, "India launches Chandrayaan-2 moon mission on second try," 22 July 2019 The night the aircraft went missing, control was seized in the cockpit during a 20 minute period between 1:01 a.m. and 1:21 a.m. and radar records show the autopilot was probably switched off, according to Langewiesche. Fox News, "MH370 had 'mysterious' 200-pound load added to flight list after takeoff: report," 18 July 2019 The captain was on a rest break when the emergency arose, the autopilot disengaged and the co-pilots struggled to fly the aircraft manually. Washington Post, "French prosecutors want Air France tried for 2009 Rio crash," 17 July 2019

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

12 Aug 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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