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The pilot-less aircraft is outfitted with an autonomous flight system from Reliable Robotics and is thought to be a first for the aviation industry
December 20, 2023
A cargo plane has completed an autonomous flight in the skies north of Hollister, California, in what is being heralded as a first for aviation.
The Cessna 208B Caravan was fitted with an autonomous flight system from Reliable Robotics that automated all phases of the aircraft’s journey, from taxi to takeoff and landing.
While there was no crew onboard the plane, the flight was supervised remotely by a pilot on the ground, located at Reliable Robotics’ control center 50 miles away.
The companies released a 360-degree view of the inside of the cockpit.
Reliable Robotics called the project a “significant milestone” in its work bringing safety-enhancing tech to the U.S. market.
The company said its system is aircraft agnostic and uses multiple layers of advanced navigation technology to achieve the levels of reliability needed for uncrewed flight.
“The system will prevent controlled flight into terrain and loss of control in flight, which account for the majority of fatal aviation accidents,” the company said in a statement.
The Cessna Caravan plane was designed and manufactured by Textron Aviation, which has an ongoing partnership with Reliable Robotics to create sustainable, automated aircraft.
“Textron Aviation is committed to delivering continuous aviation improvements and our relationship with Reliable Robotics advances this work,” said Chris Hearne, Textron Aviation’s senior vice president of engineering and programs. “Reliable’s successful flight of an uncrewed Cessna 208 Caravan represents a milestone for the industry in bringing new technology to aviation.”
The Caravan, like other regional cargo aircraft, provides rapid delivery of time-sensitive shipments to places that don’t usually have access to next-day delivery. By automating these aircraft, the companies hope to provide more efficient and wide-reaching delivery options.
Reliable Robotics and the U.S. Air Force are planning to use data from the Cessna Caravan project to further their partnership creating military-grade autonomous aircraft. Reliable has been working under a series of contracts with the Air Force since 2021.
The FAA formally accepted the certification plan for Reliable’s autonomous flight system in June, paving the way for commercial uptake of its aircraft automation systems.
Assistant Editor, IoT World Today
Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.
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