Reliable Robotics Selected for U.S. Air Force Funding Program

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Reliable Robotics, a leader in autonomous aircraft systems, today announced it was approved to participate in the 2024 AFWERX Tactical Funding Increase (TACFI) program for the United States Department of the Air Force (USAF). TACFI is designed to “bridge the capability gap” between current Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) efforts to facilitate the delivery of strategic capabilities for the Department of the Air Force. Reliable was competitively chosen for award from a large list of providers during the funding evaluation.

“The TACFI Program is a valuable funding mechanism to bolster SBIR projects and its application to autonomy development unlocks significant product acceleration, maturation and demonstration of operationally relevant mission sets,” said Lt Col Bryan Ralston, Autonomy Prime Branch Chief. “Autonomy is a key enabler for future military tactical air dominance and forward basing operations.”

TACFI selection and Reliable’s follow-on Phase III SBIR contract both extend and continue Reliable’s previous Phase II contract. These contract efforts will further Reliable’s ongoing collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and AFWERX which includes:

  • Demonstration of flexible remote piloting capabilities at McClellan Airfield during the recent AGILE FLAG exercise
  • Military Airworthiness approval for autonomous flight testing and operational missions of Reliable’s Cessna 208 Caravan for the U.S. Air Force
  • A large aircraft automation study to adapt Reliable’s autonomous flight system for airframes such as the KC-135
  • Demonstration of autonomous flight at Travis Air Force base for distinguished military personnel as part of the Golden Phoenix exercise
  • Completion of Phase I and Phase II SBIR contracts

“TACFI funding is an important milestone signifying our autonomous flight system is moving forward toward operational implementation,“ said Dr. David O’Brien, Major General (Ret.), and Senior Vice President of Government Solutions at Reliable Robotics. “Reliable is laser-focused on U.S. leadership in aviation and delivering the Air Force unrivaled automation capabilities for multiple aircraft types within existing inventory, in reduced crew, and crewless modes to defeat any threat, at any time, anywhere on earth.”

Reliable’s Dual-use Autonomous Flight System

Reliable Robotics has developed a dual-use solution to convert existing commercial airframes such as the Cessna 208B Caravan with autonomous flight systems, which can be configured for logistics and defense purposes. Automated aircraft, specifically cargo aircraft, provide mission-critical opportunities that can increase aircraft utilization, operational range, and save military lives, while improving the pilot pipeline, and facilitating new operating concepts that could enhance survivability in contested airspace. The USAF and other military branches will be able to take advantage of autonomy at fractional pricing compared to technology developed exclusively for the military.

Reliable’s certification progress of a full aircraft automation system is unparalleled with FAA acceptance of its certification plan in June 2023, and all requirements for the advanced aircraft navigation and autopilot systems agreed upon in February 2024. Reliable and the FAA have also established agreement on the testing and analysis that will be performed to show that these highly automated systems satisfy FAA safety and performance requirements. With FAA approval, Reliable Robotics demonstrated operation of two different aircraft types in civilian airspace with no pilot onboard in 2019 and 2023.

About Reliable Robotics

Reliable Robotics launched in 2017 to bring safe, certified automation systems to commercial aviation. The company’s system enables remote operation of any aircraft type. Reliable’s vision is to transform the way we move goods and people around the planet with safer, more convenient and more affordable air transportation. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, CA and has a distributed global workforce.

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