Developing autonomous aircraft is a complex task, and one that involves not only technical challenges but also regulatory hurdles. In the West, these regulatory unknowns can be just as daunting as the technical obstacles. Autonomous aircraft startups, therefore, need to carefully consider their strategies based on their expectations of what regulators will be willing to certify and when.
California-based Reliable Robotics is one such startup that has taken a unique approach to autonomous flight. Instead of completely replacing human pilots, their strategy involves developing an advanced autopilot that supplements the pilot’s capabilities. The company’s autopilot system will be certified to a higher level of reliability than traditional automatic flight control systems and will be engaged for all phases of operation, including taxi, takeoff, and landing.
In August 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) accepted the certification basis for Reliable’s autopilot on the Cessna 208 Caravan, marking a significant milestone for the company. The FAA also approved Reliable’s certification plan in July, further validating the viability of this approach.
While Reliable Robotics continues to make progress with its autopilot project, it is also proactively preparing for future remotely piloted operations. CEO Robert Rose recently discussed the company’s intentions in a revealing interview. As part of their preparations, Reliable has made the strategic decision to develop its own air-to-air radar for detect-and-avoid (DAA) purposes. This decision not only reflects the company’s insights into the current regulatory environment but also positions Reliable as a potential industry supplier.
On October 27, Reliable Robotics officially announced its radar program and welcomed Marc Pos, a veteran radar developer from Honeywell, to their team. This hiring decision showcases Reliable’s commitment to advance their technological capabilities and highlights their determination to overcome the challenges that come with autonomous flight.
Developing autonomous aircraft is not just about technological innovation but also about anticipating and addressing regulatory concerns. By taking a strategic and proactive approach, Reliable Robotics is positioning itself at the forefront of this evolving industry.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What is Reliable Robotics’ approach to autonomous flight?
A: Reliable Robotics has chosen to develop an advanced autopilot that supplements the human pilot rather than replacing them entirely.
Q: Is Reliable’s autopilot system certified?
A: Yes, the Federal Aviation Administration has accepted the certification basis for Reliable’s autopilot on the Cessna 208 Caravan.
Q: How is Reliable preparing for remotely piloted operations?
A: Reliable is developing its own air-to-air radar for detect-and-avoid purposes, reflecting their understanding of the regulatory environment and positioning themselves as a potential industry supplier.
Q: When did Reliable reveal its radar program?
A: Reliable Robotics officially announced its radar program on October 27.
Q: Who did Reliable hire for their radar program?
A: Reliable hired Marc Pos, a radar development expert from Honeywell, to lead their radar program.