Reliable Robotics Completes Autonomous Flight System Tests for U.S. Air Force

Reliable’s autonomous flight system includes an “always on” autopilot which handles all phases of aircraft operation.

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Reliable Robotics

Reliable Robotics, a provider of autonomous aircraft systems, today announced that it has completed a demonstration for the Department of the Air Force's AFWERX Autonomy Prime branch. In conjunction with the Air Combat Command branch of the U.S. Air Force's AGILE FLAG exercise, Reliable demonstrated its autonomous flight system for intra-theater military logistics. Reliable’s autonomous flight system includes an “always on” autopilot which handles all phases of aircraft operation including autotaxi, autotakeoff, autoflight and autoland.

On the heels of the first uncrewed flight of a large cargo plane in late 2023, Reliable unlocked Military Airworthiness at the start of 2024 to support autonomy testing on their experimental aircraft. Immediately, Reliable exercised its capabilities for AGILE FLAG forces, and showcased the flexibility, speed and maturity of remotely piloting with a highly portable control center. During this first-of-its-kind mission, Reliable flew to Sacramento McClellan Airport, retrieved a pelican case from the cargo pod, quickly set up the mobile control station in less than 20 minutes and remotely operated a fully automated flight that took off from Hollister Municipal Airport, over 120 miles away. The flight was overseen at McClellan by a remote pilot, who was responsible for route planning and communications.

"Demonstrating the rapid deployment of autonomous aircraft at AGILE FLAG highlights the operational and tactical advantage portable, rapid autonomous flight brings to the Department of the Air Force and offers new perspectives on the art of the possible," said Kate Brown, AFWERX Autonomy Prime deputy branch chief.

With the only FAA-approved autonomous aircraft certification plan for full aircraft automation, Reliable has the most advanced certification program for an autonomous flight system. Reliable’s dual-use autonomous system was designed to improve aviation safety and prevent the most common causes of fatal accidents in general aviation including controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) and loss of control in flight (LOC-I). Reliable’s system has been adapted for and successfully flown on the Cessna 172 and the Cessna 208B Caravan, and evaluated for multi-engine jets like the KC-135 Stratotanker with positive findings about transferability of the technology as part of a large aircraft automation study with the U.S. Air Force.

“This successful demo underscored two important mission enablers – the ability to deploy Reliable’s control station wherever the Air Force needs, and convert existing aircraft using our aircraft-agnostic autonomous flight system,” said Dr. David O’Brien, Major General (Ret.), and Senior Vice President of Government Solutions at Reliable Robotics. “This combination provides commanders more aviation options and greater operational flexibility which is critical to prevailing in contested environments around the globe.“

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