Reliable Robotics, automated aircraft systems company, has raised US$100m (£72.7m) to expand its remotely piloted cargo drone operations.
The company’s technology handles all phases of flight including taxi, take-off, landing and parking, while licensed pilots remotely supervise each flight from a control centre. The system has the capability to autoland on smaller airstrips in rural or remote areas without requiring infrastructure to be installed and maintained.
“Automated aircraft present a massive opportunity to transform the cargo industry over the next several years,” said Jeff Drees, former chief commercial officer of Ameriflight, who recently joined Reliable Robotics to build its airline subsidiary and deliver cargo services while preparing for the adoption and scaling of remotely operated aircraft.
“Remotely piloted cargo delivery provides a huge advantage with low cost, anytime, anywhere flights that increase aircraft utilisation and availability,” he added.
The Series C funding round was led by Coatue Management, joining past investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, Eclipse Ventures, Teamworthy Ventures and Pathbreaker Ventures. It brings total fundraising so far to over US$133m (£96.7m).
“We believe Reliable Robotics is a leader in aircraft automation for commercial aviation,” said Jaimin Rangwalla, a senior managing director at Coatue. “We were impressed by the team’s clear vision, measured certification progress and track record of industry achievement. We are proud and excited to support Reliable’s goal to be the first to deliver FAA-certified, remotely piloted systems to market.”
Planned expansion of the company’s aircraft programme includes additional, larger airframes. It aims to use these to further demonstrate the versatility of its system. The company also intends to support emerging electric and hybrid electric platforms and eventually passenger aircraft.
“We appreciate our public-private partnership with the FAA and NASA as we work to integrate our remotely operated aircraft system into the airspace. We intend to bring unprecedented safety and reliability to today’s commercial aircraft,” said Robert Rose, CEO of Reliable Robotics.
“Close collaboration with our public institutions, strong backing from visionary investors and keen interest within the cargo industry further accelerates our mission to expand everyone’s access to air transportation.”