Thu. Dec 7th, 2023
    New Radar Technology Takes Autonomous Flight to New Heights

    Reliable Robotics, a California start-up focused on developing autonomous flight systems, has recently appointed industry expert Marc Pos to lead its radar design. Radar technology is considered crucial in enabling reliable and all-weather sensing capabilities for autonomous aircraft. Unlike cameras and lidar, radar works in any weather condition, including fog, rain, and snow.

    Reliable Robotics has been integrating radar systems into their aircraft for several years, but the company has now shifted its focus to meet the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) requirements for certificated autonomous flight systems. This change prompted Reliable Robotics to bring radar design in-house and onboard the aircraft, partnering with Marc Pos, an experienced design engineer.

    While competitors in the autonomous flight sector are exploring alternative sensors such as sonar and laser-ranging, Reliable Robotics believes that radar has the greatest chance of being certificated. According to Robert Rose, founder and CEO of Reliable Robotics, radar technology offers a higher likelihood of immediate success compared to other sensor technologies that might require a longer development timeline.

    The FAA has already accepted radar as a means of complying with detect-and-avoid requirements, which are crucial for the safe operation of autonomous aircraft. Reliable Robotics’ detect-and-avoid system utilizes existing on-board systems like the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) to create a comprehensive map of the aircraft’s surroundings. However, the missing piece in the system is a sensor that can detect non-cooperative vehicles, such as those without transponders turned on. This is where radar technology becomes indispensable.

    Radar technology has evolved over the years, and the latest advancements have made it commercially viable and suitable for small aircraft. By incorporating smart components and military-grade technologies, Reliable Robotics aims to provide autonomous aircraft with radar-based sensing capabilities.

    Reliable Robotics, headquartered in Mountain View, is currently working towards certification and commercialization of its always-on autopilot system. The certification process is expected to take 18-24 months. The system allows for non-emergency auto-landing, automated take-off, and automated taxi capabilities. Flights will be autonomously operated but remotely supervised by a ground-based pilot who will ensure safety by programming flight routes, maintaining communication with air traffic control, and coordinating with other aircraft.

    Additionally, Reliable Robotics is actively engaged in integrating autonomous aircraft into the National Airspace System, ensuring safe operation within managed airspace. The company’s subsidiary, Reliable Airlines, which operates aircraft on behalf of FedEx, serves as an incubator for developing and testing their autonomous systems. This partnership will mark the first commercial application of Reliable Robotics’ technology.


    1. What is Reliable Robotics?

    Reliable Robotics is a California start-up focused on developing autonomous flight systems, specifically autopilot systems for aircraft.

    2. What is radar technology?

    Radar, short for “radio detection and ranging,” is a sensing technology that uses radio waves to detect and track objects. It is widely used in aviation for its ability to provide all-weather sensing capabilities.

    3. Why is radar considered crucial for autonomous flight?

    Radar is the only non-cooperative sensor that works in any weather condition, making it essential for autonomous aircraft to navigate safely and detect other aircraft, especially in challenging weather conditions.

    4. How does Reliable Robotics utilize radar technology?

    Reliable Robotics integrates radar into its autonomous flight systems to ensure detect-and-avoid capabilities. Radar helps the system detect non-cooperative aircraft, such as those without transponders turned on.

    5. What is the role of a remote pilot in Reliable Robotics’ autonomous flight system?

    In Reliable Robotics’ autonomous flight system, a remote pilot on the ground supervises the autonomously operated aircraft. They are responsible for programming flight routes, maintaining communication with air traffic control, and coordinating with other aircraft to ensure safe operation.