I've just checked in Bionic:

$ uname -rvsop
Linux 4.15.0-10-generic #11-Ubuntu SMP Tue Feb 13 18:23:35 UTC 2018 x86_64 
$ lsb_release -a
No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID: Ubuntu
Description:    Ubuntu Bionic Beaver (development branch)
Release:        18.04
Codename:       bionic
$ sudo apt list autofs
Auflistung... Fertig
autofs/bionic,now 5.1.2-1ubuntu2 amd64  [installiert]

In this version the bug seems to be fixed. AutoFS works as expected.

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  [SRU] [xenial] autofs needs to be restarted to pick up some shares

Status in autofs package in Ubuntu:
Status in autofs5 package in Ubuntu:
Status in upstart package in Ubuntu:

Bug description:
  I am using autofs to access shares on a Windows XP machine from a
  Kubuntu AMD64 machine.  The problems applies in both Breezy and

  EDIT:  confirmed with similar configuration on Intrepid with a NetApp
  filer hosting NFS.  Server OS removed from summary.

  When I first try to access the mount point via cd or in Konqueror it
  does not exist.  However,  if I then restart autofs
  (/etc/init.d/autofs restart) everythin then works OK.  My config files


  # $Id: auto.master,v 1.3 2003/09/29 08:22:35 raven Exp $
  # Sample auto.master file
  # This is an automounter map and it has the following format
  # key [ -mount-options-separated-by-comma ] location
  # For details of the format look at autofs(5).
  #/misc        /etc/auto.misc --timeout=60
  #/misc        /etc/auto.misc
  #/net /etc/auto.net

  /petunia /etc/petunia.misc --timeout=60


  # $Id: auto.misc,v 1.2 2003/09/29 08:22:35 raven Exp $
  # This is an automounter map and it has the following format
  # key [ -mount-options-separated-by-comma ] location
  # Details may be found in the autofs(5) manpage

  cd              -fstype=iso9660,ro,nosuid,nodev :/dev/cdrom

  tony  -fstype=smbfs,defaults,password=xxx,fmask=777,dmask=777 
  chris -fstype=smbfs,defaults,password=xxx,fmask=777,dmask=777 
  shared        -fstype=smbfs,defaults,password=xxx,fmask=777,dmask=777 
  linuxbackups  -fstype=smbfs,defaults,password=xxx,fmask=777,dmask=777 

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