Reliable Robotics Marks First Caravan Flight Without Pilot

Reliable Robotics Cessna Caravan

Reliable Robotics is aiming to certify its continuous autopilot system as a retrofit for the Cessna Caravan.

Credit: Reliable Robotics

U.S. startup Reliable Robotics has completed a fully autonomous flight with a modified Cessna Caravan with no pilot on board, marking a major milestone on the path to certifying its continuous autopilot and navigation system.

The flight of the modified Caravan took off from Hollister Municipal Airport in California on the morning of Nov. 21. Retrofitted with Reliable’s continuous autopilot system, the aircraft taxied, took off, flew in a pattern and landed autonomously, in a flight that lasted approximately 12 min. including taxiing, according to the company.

The flight was supervised by remote pilot Danah Tommalieh operating 50 mi. away at Reliable’s Mountain View, California, headquarters, while supported by a team of visual observers on the ground. Also present were four FAA aviation safety inspectors, according to the company.

Speaking to the AAM Report following the flight, Reliable Robotics founder and CEO Robert Rose described it as a major milestone for the company’s development and certification efforts, marking the first time it flew the modified Caravan with no pilot onboard, in the presence of FAA observers and with more certifiable-representative avionics and hardware on board.

Ben Goldstein

Based in Boston, Ben covers advanced air mobility and is managing editor of Aviation Week Network’s AAM Report.