The United States Air Force has awarded a contract to US aviation automation firm Reliable Robotics to explore the automation of large, multi-engine jets.
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The feasibility assessment of full and limited aircraft automation features such as remotely piloted aircraft for cargo operations, was announced on 8 February.
Reliable is developing a continuous autopilot engagement through all phases of flight including taxi, take-off and landing with a remote pilot supervising operation. The system is awaiting certification by the Federal Aviation Administration.
United States Air Force Colonel Sean R McClune said the Air Force supports development of aircraft automation systems.
“Headquarters Air Force Mobility Functional Integration Team supports the efforts of Reliable Robotics and the development of their aircraft automation systems,” he said.
“Reliable provides capabilities that will help close logistical gaps so that the United States Air Force can execute their role within the Joint Warfighting Concept.
“We are interested in Reliable Robotics not only for their effectiveness in supporting the warfighter in contested logistics but also for their novel approach of outfitting legacy aircraft with cutting-edge automation kits.
“This is of great value to the US government because it will help solve the demand of short to medium range point-to-point logistics without the need to manufacture new aircraft, which will ensure critical logistics are available at speed and scale to all regions of the country.”
Reliable Robotics senior vice-president of government solutions, Major General David O'Brien, said the firm values the US Air Force as an essential mission partner.
“Our vision is to provide remote piloting capability to a wide variety of aircraft. This contract furthers our focus on automation of large, multi-engine jet aircraft, which is an important step in our developmental roadmap,” said Dr O'Brien.