There is some precedent for humans handing over the reins of a powerful and potentially deadly machine: the airplane. For over a century, planes have been aided by some form of autopilot. Initially, planes used gyroscopes to hold a steady course and altitude. Today, nearly all of the regular mid-air controls are handled by a computer. “Autopilots for planes have been very effective and quite successful,” says Aaron Steinfeld, an associate research professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Steinfeld points out that, since the introduction of modern autopilots, flying grew markedly safer.