The pilot is the most important and expensive aspect of running a cargo operation. A pilot is needed to take off as well as land. The rest of the time is pretty much instruments. Therefore, Reliable Robotics has come up with a solution to the need-of-pilots-in-the-plane problem. It plans to solve it by putting the pilot on the ground when you need it. The plane will find its destination on its own the rest of the time.
Investments and plans of Reliable Robotics
Coatue Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures, Eclipse Ventures, Teamworthy Ventures, and Pathbreaker Ventures all believe this is the future, to the point of backing the Mountain View, California-based company with a $130 million of total funding. The company today announced its $100 million Series C funding, led by Coatue Management.
The funds will go toward scaling the team and supporting its first aircraft certification program. This will work towards commercial cargo operations. In the first instance, the company is working on automation systems for existing aircraft. They have been experimenting and developing using a Cessna 172, which started flying unmanned flights a couple of years ago.
Details and business strategy of the company
Founded in 2017, the company was operating in stealth mode until last year. The technology created by reliable robotics handles all phases of flight. These phases are taxi, takeoff, landing, and parking. Pilots supervise all the activity remotely from a control center. The startup says that its technology is capable of auto-landing on small airstrips in rural and remote areas. And this can be done without extra infrastructure or installation of additional technology at the airports.
Since pilots are the costliest element of a cargo operation, trucking has similar roadblocks. A driver’s skill can ruin a cargo operation or make it a success. Hence, doing deliveries by air and replacing qualified pilots with autonomous systems that can be overridden from the ground results in lowered cost and utilization of the aircraft skyrockets.
Reliable Robotics’ USP
The main selling point of the company is connecting regional and municipal airports across the country. The company is focusing on increasing efficiency and decreasing the cost of hauling cargo around. Reliable Robotics also hints at a future where passengers can step aboard remotely piloted planes. The company is also evaluating emerging electric and hybrid aircraft platforms.
Of course, people are a little twitchy about the safety aspects of self-driving cars. Planes add a literal additional dimension to the mix. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is keeping a close eye on Reliable Robotics and other commercial operators in this space. But, the agency has greenlit a number of authorizations for experimental unmanned aircraft.