Reliable Robotics has completed a series of flight tests in partnership with NASA to aid the FAA in the use of primary surveillance radar (PSR) data.

The tests were conducted on Reliable’s modified Cessna Grand Caravan at Travis Air Force Base and successfully demonstrated an autonomous taxi, takeoff, and landing. Reliable is currently developing an FAA STC for its remote pilot technology on the Caravan, but intends to make it available for other aircraft types in the future.

The tests were intended to demonstrate a high-precision, high-integrity navigation system that enables automatic takeoff and landing. More specifically demonstrating to the FAA their detect and avoid (DAA) capabilities. This technology helps to ensure safe distances between aircraft and minimize the risk of mid-air collisions. Successful demonstration of this software is on of the key hurdles needed to realize fully autonomous/remote pilot operations.

The test conducted with NASA involved feeding live radar data into a NASA facility and subjecting two aircraft to multiple encounter scenarios. These scenarios simulated approaching each other from different angles and speeds, simulating unintended near misses. Throughout the test, data from the FAA and DoD surveillance radar system was collected, alongside high-precision position information gathered onboard the aircraft. This data was subsequently cross-compared to evaluate the effectiveness of radar systems in ensuring separation.

Assuming successful outcomes, the end goal is to publish a formal paper that establishes the suitability of ground surveillance radar equipment as a vital component in solving the detect-and-avoid problem. This research holds promise for further enhancing aviation safety and paving the way for more advanced automation in the skies.

“Everything went the way that we expected,” said Robert Rose, CEO of Reliable Robotics. “There’s still a lot more work that needs to be done, but we were excited to kick this work off.”

Why it matters: Detect and Avoid software and collaboration with the FAA in the development of collision avoidance technologies will be of paramount importance for the long term success of fully autonomous aerial mobility platforms. Reliable’s work and eventual STC for the Cessna Caravan are steps in the right direct towards making remote piloting a reality.

Posted by Ross Piscoran