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Reliable Robotics raises $ 100 million to take autonomous cargo planes where none have gone before – TechCrunch


When transporting cargo from one part of the world to another, you usually need a pilot for two parts: take off and landing. As Jim Abrahams’ 1980 film so elegantly describes! Airplane – the rest of the time you’re pretty much on the instruments. Reliable Robotics aims to solve that pesky problem of needing to have a pilot on the plane by instead putting the pilot on the ground when you need it and letting the plane find its destination on its own. the rest of the time. Coatue Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures, Eclipse Ventures, Teamworthy Ventures and Pathbreaker Ventures all believe it’s the future, to the point of backing the Mountain View, Calif., Based company with total funding of $ 130 million. The company today announced its $ 100 million Series C financing, led by Coatue Management.

The funds will be used to grow the team and support its first aircraft certification program – working toward commercial cargo operations. First, the company is working on automation systems for existing aircraft. They experimented and developed using a Cessna 172, which began flying unmanned flights a few years ago.

In September 2019, Reliable Robotics flew a Cessna 172 with no one on board in the airspace just outside of San Jose, California.

The company was founded in 2017 and operated in stealth mode until last year. Its technology manages all phases of flight, including taxiing, takeoff, landing and parking, while licensed pilots remotely supervise flights from a control center. Reliable Robotics suggests that the systems they developed are capable of automatically landing on smaller airstrips in rural or remote areas without requiring the installation of additional infrastructure or technology at airports.

The business case is simple: Drivers are the most expensive aspects of operating freight operations, with similar restrictions to highway trucking operations: the vast majority of trucking is boring, monotonous work where drivers are the most common source of failure. In the air, replacing skilled pilots with autonomous systems that can be controlled from the ground means the cost goes down and aircraft usage skyrockets.

Reliable Robotics raises $ 100 million to take autonomous cargo planes where none have gone before – TechCrunch

Who needs pilots, anyway? Image credits: Reliable robotics

“We believe Reliable Robotics is a leader in aircraft automation for commercial aviation,” said Jaimin Rangwalla, Senior Managing Director of Coatue. “We have been impressed with the team’s clear vision, the measured progress in certification and the track record of industry success. We are proud and excited to support Reliable’s goal of being the first to market FAA certified remotely piloted systems.

The company’s main selling point is the connection of regional and municipal airports across the country. To begin with, the company focuses on increasing the efficiency and reducing the cost of transporting goods. Reliable Robotics also hints at a future where passengers will be able to board unmanned aircraft. The company is also evaluating emerging platforms of electric and hybrid aircraft.

Of course, people are a little nervous about the safety aspects of self-driving cars – and airplanes add a literal extra dimension to the mix. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is closely monitoring Reliable and other commercial operators in this space, but the agency has given the green light to a number of clearances for experimental unmanned aircraft.

We value our public-private partnership with the FAA and NASA as we work to integrate our remote control aircraft system into the airspace. We intend to bring unprecedented safety and reliability to today’s commercial aircraft, ”said Robert Rose, co-founder and CEO of Reliable Robotics. “Close collaboration with our public institutions, strong support from visionary investors and a keen interest in the freight industry further accelerates our mission to expand universal access to air transport. “