Reliable Robotics announced yesterday that it has raised $100 million in Series C funding. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company said its Remotely Operated Aircraft System will expand safe, flexible, and efficient air transportation service to more locations. Reliable Robotics said the new capital will enable it to scale its team, support its first aircraft certification program, and expedite the launch of commercial cargo operations.
There are thousands of underused regional and municipal airports across the U.S. Reliable Robotics said its system is designed to allow remote operation of any aircraft type and expand affordable access to more locations. By bringing certified autonomous vehicles to commercial aviation as soon as possible, the company intends to expand air transportation options for cargo and eventually passengers.
Public-private partners prove remote piloting
Founded in 2017, Reliable Robotics claimed that its technology can handle all phases of flight, including taxi, takeoff, landing, and parking, while licensed pilots remotely supervise each flight from a control center. The system has the capability to autoland on smaller airstrips in rural or remote areas without requiring expensive infrastructure to be installed and maintained.
Reliable Robotics said it has made substantial progress in key development areas throughout its phased approach to certification, deepening its regulatory experience through ongoing engagement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). As part of this work, the company has received key authorizations from the FAA for the flight of experimental unmanned aircraft.
In 2019, Reliable demonstrated remote operation of a large commercial aircraft over a metropolitan area, an aviation first for a private company in the U.S.
In addition, the company announced a partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as part of the Advanced Air Mobility National Campaign to further real-world flight testing of its system.
“We appreciate our public-private partnership with the FAA and NASA as we work to integrate our Remotely Operated Aircraft System into the [national] airspace,” said Robert Rose, co-founder and CEO of Reliable Robotics. “We intend to bring unprecedented safety and reliability to today’s commercial aircraft.”
“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,” he added.
Coatue leads round
Coatue Management led Reliable Robotics' Series C round. It joined past investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, Eclipse Ventures, Teamworthy Ventures, and Pathbreaker Ventures to bring total fundraising over $133 million.
“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.”
Coatue has more than $45 billion in assets under management. Some of its private investments have included Airtable, Ant Financial, Anaplan, ByteDance, Chime, Databricks, DoorDash, Instacart, Meituan, Snap, Snowflake and Spotify.
Reliable Robotics to continue growth
Reliable Robotics said it plans to expand its aircraft program to additional, larger airframes and demonstrate the versatility of its system. The company also expects to support emerging electric and hybrid electric platforms and eventually passenger aircraft.
Since emerging from stealth last year, Reliable Robotics has grown substantially. It has more than doubled in size, attracting a diverse group of engineers with expertise in aviation, autonomy, and other mission and safety-critical domains.
“Automated aircraft present a massive opportunity to transform the cargo industry over the next several years,” said Jeff Drees, former co-owner and chief commercial officer of Ameriflight, the largest regional air cargo carrier in the world. “Remotely piloted cargo delivery provides a huge advantage with low-cost, anytime, anywhere flights that increase aircraft utilization and availability.”
Drees recently joined Reliable Robotics to build its airline subsidiary and deliver cargo services while preparing for the adoption and scaling of remotely operated aircraft.