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Reliable Robotics analyzes Air Force automation potential

California-based Reliable Robotics released three positive findings related to adapting legacy U.S. Air Force aircraft with the company’s Remotely Operated Aircraft System (ROAS) to enhance cargo operations and refueling capacity in limited or uncrewed large, multiengine jets as part of an Air Force-funded contract announced in February.

Photo courtesy of Reliable Robotics.

The company explained in a press release that being able to remotely operate large multiengine Air Force jets will enable greater aircraft utilization, more frequent flights, and “almost continuous operation to fly further distances unimpeded by crew repositioning logistics.”

Reliable’s system is designed to enable automation “through all phases of aircraft operation, including taxi, takeoff, and landing with a remote pilot supervising operations.” The company’s certification plan was formally accepted by the FAA in July.

In Reliable’s most recent report related to outfitting legacy military aircraft with its system, the company found that of the airframes examined, the aircraft can accommodate the system upgrades required for remote operation with only “modest adjustments for remote piloting and select refueling operations.”

The company also found that “large remotely piloted military aircraft can gain efficiency improvements and operational flexibility equivalent to commercial operations without the need to manufacture new aircraft, providing the Air Force with significant financial advantage,” and that “the same levels of system reliability required under FAA certification, and designed into the ROAS architecture and hardware, can be achieved when the system is flying on these larger airframes in the U.S. National Airspace System.”

When asked about any negative or surprising findings in the study, Natasha Alimchandani from Reliable’s marketing and communications team, wrote in an email exchange, “Our in-house designed actuators were originally sized for a small single engine aircraft. Of all the flight controls on the significantly larger 4 engine aircraft, only one function requires a slightly larger capacity actuator. The suite of hardware developed for our Remotely Operated Aircraft System can be used on a wide selection of commercial and military airframes.”

David O’Brien, a retired Air Force major general and senior vice president of government solutions at Reliable Robotics, said, “At Reliable Robotics, we are obsessed with enabling previously unimaginable capabilities for the U.S. Air Force through autonomy. Automating existing inventory at fractional costs will provide commanders unprecedented flexibility and safety in meeting acute operational demands with the smallest deployed human footprint.”

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

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