By Mark Phelps
California-based Reliable Robotics announced today (Dec. 6) it has completed an FAA-sanctioned uncrewed flight of a Cessna 208B Caravan at Hollister Airport (KCVH) just south of San Jose, with a remote pilot in control from the company headquarters in Mountain View, California, 50 miles away. The Caravan took off from Runway 31 and entered a closed traffic pattern for landing. Designed for autonomous flight, the company’s technology enables remote operation through all phases of flight, including taxi, takeoff and landing.
Reliable Robotics said its technology is “aircraft agnostic” and has multiple layers of systems redundancy. The system incorporates “advanced navigation technology” and is also designed to prevent controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) and loss of control inflight (LOC-I).
One target market is enabling cargo flights to remote areas. The announcement noted, “The Caravan, and other regional cargo aircraft like it, serve an essential role connecting communities and businesses across the United States and around the globe.” Chris Hearne, Textron Senior VP of Engineering and Programs, said, “Reliable’s successful flight of an uncrewed Cessna 208 Caravan represents a milestone for the industry in bringing new technology to aviation.”
Last August, Reliable Robotics announced it had completed simulations and flight tests as part of the FAA’s Urban Air Mobility Airspace Management Demonstration. The simulations involved integrating remotely piloted aircraft into congested airspace, according to Reliable. The flight trials took place over the course of a week in northern California.
Today’s announcement also revealed that Reliable has been working under multiple contracts with the U.S. Air Force since 2021 “to leverage the significant progress on remote piloting for the Cessna Caravan to jointly examine how this commercially derived technology can be applied to large multi-engine aircraft for cargo logistics, aerial refueling and other missions.”