Reliable Robotics makes history with fully automated cargo flight

Reliable Robotics achieves historic fully autonomous flight with uncrewed Cessna 208B Caravan.

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U.S. based startup Reliable Robotics has achieved a significant milestone as the company successfully piloted a fully autonomous flight. The company utilised a Cessna 208B Caravan aircraft with no crew on board.

The unmanned aircraft was supervised by a remote pilot from Reliable's control center, which was located 50 miles away.The Reliable autonomous flight system enables a ground-based pilot to remotely control the aircraft, enhancing safety by automating all phases of operation, from taxi to takeoff and landing. The company employs multiple layers of safety and cutting-edge navigation technology, irrespective of the aircraft type, to carry out autonomous flights. According to Reliable Robotics, the system aims to prevent controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) and loss of control in flight (LOC-I), which account for the majority of fatal aviation accidents.

The flight took off from Hollister Municipal Airport in California. Equipped with Reliable's continuous autopilot system, the Cessna Caravan flew autonomously for about 12 minutes, handling taxiing, takeoff, flying in a pattern, and landing.

Textron Aviation Inc, the designer, and manufacturer of the Cessna Caravan, expressed its commitment to advancing aviation improvements through its collaboration with Reliable Robotics. Chris Hearne, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Programs at Textron Aviation, stated, "Textron Aviation is dedicated to ongoing improvements in aviation. Our collaboration with Reliable Robotics signifies a significant milestone for the industry, showcasing the successful uncrewed flight of a Cessna 208 Caravan and the introduction of new technology to aviation."

In addition to Textron Aviation, Reliable has been collaborating with ASL Aviation Holdings since 2022 to explore the integration of advanced aircraft automation into its global operations. ASL Aviation Holdings is a worldwide aviation services provider, operating airlines in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.

Reliable and the U.S. Air Force are jointly examining how this commercially developed technology might be applied to large multi-engine aircraft for missions such as aerial refueling, cargo logistics, and other applications. This collaboration builds on advancements made in remote piloting for the Cessna Caravan. Reliable has been working with the U.S. Air Force under various contract agreements since 2021.

Reliable's autonomous flight has also provided valuable data that will inform the company's proposals to the FAA on creating operating rules for remotely piloted aircraft. In July, the FAA formally accepted Reliable's autonomous flight system certification plan.

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