Logistics giant FedEx is looking to use self-flying planes to transport packages to remote places, according to the CEO of the company.
FedEx is working with tech startup Reliable Robotics to test the use of an unmanned aircraft for cargo delivery, news site Supply Chain Dive said in a recent report.
“This initiative deals with smaller turboprop airplanes and in this case the single-engine C208, which we are looking at putting in very remote and uninhabited areas as part of our network,” FedEx CEO Fred Smith was quoted as saying.
Reliable Robotics said it successfully completed test flights of two remote-piloted passenger airplanes in the United States airspace last month.
In the first flight, the pilot pressed a button on a remote user interface and the unmanned four passenger Cessna 172 Skyhawk (C172) automatically taxied, took off, and landed, the company said.
Most recently, the company demonstrated fully automated remote landing of an even larger aircraft, the Cessna 208 Caravan (C208), capable of carrying 14 passengers.
According to the US Federal Aviation Administration documentation, FedEx is listed as the registered owner of the Cessna 208.
Launched by SpaceX and Tesla veterans, Reliable Robotics is working towards changing commercial aviation with its autonomous flight technology.
The company designed and built a proprietary autonomous platform that can be applied to any fixed-wing aircraft.
The platform includes avionics, software, mechanisms, a communications system, remote command interfaces, along with a backup system that has the capability to take over if needed.
Following the C172 programme, it was adapted for use on the larger C208.
Reliable Robotics said it is now working with the Federal Aviation Administration on incrementally bringing this technology to market, having already demonstrated automated landing on the Cessna 208 Caravan.