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Air Force looks toward automation with Reliable Robotics

California-based aircraft automation systems developer Reliable Robotics announced a contract with the U.S. Air Force to study full and limited aircraft automation of large, multiengine jets.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense.

The study will seek to better understand the feasibility of automating all phases of flight for cargo operations, ideally enabling more efficient missions for the Air Force worldwide using legacy aircraft.

Reliable was established in 2017 with the goal of enhancing aircraft safety in commercial and general aviation through certified automation systems. The company is working to certify autonomous systems for all phases of flight, including taxi, takeoff, and landing, with a remote pilot supervising operations. The company hopes that once certified, the system will reduce the frequency of aviation accidents, such as controlled flight into terrain and loss of control.

A pilot himself, Reliable Robotics CEO Robert Rose is no stranger to emerging tech with experience working with SpaceX; Tesla; and Google’s skunkworks division Google X, now referred to as X Development. Rose, whose mother, father, and grandparents all have backgrounds in aviation, discovered his desire for aircraft automation while earning his private pilot certificate. “At the end of the day this is about safety,” Rose explained. “I want more automation so more people can enjoy aviation.”

Reliable’s systems are still a far throw from becoming commonplace in any aircraft, but the company has plans to certify its systems in steps. Starting with certifying a continuous autopilot system for the Cessna Caravan, the company also plans to certify an advanced autolanding system for small aircraft at airports without instrument landing systems, automated takeoff rejection systems, auto taxiing, and eventually moving the pilot out of the aircraft and into a control center.

“Our vision is to provide remote piloting capability to a wide variety of aircraft,” David O’Brien, retired Air Force major general, and senior vice president of government solutions at Reliable Robotics, said. “This contract furthers our focus on automation of large, multi-engine jet aircraft, which is an important step in our developmental roadmap.”

Niki Britton

eMedia Content Producer
eMedia Content Producer Niki Britton joined AOPA in 2021. She is a private pilot who enjoys flying her 1969 Cessna 182 and taking aerial photographs.
Topics: Automation, Jet

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