American start-up Merlin Labs plans to equip a small fleet of jets so that they can fly without the assistance of a real pilot.
After raising significant funding, Merlin Labs has concluded a deal with Dynamic Aviation to test and hopefully one day put into service its unmanned aircraft technology, capable of transporting goods as well as passengers.
The start-up’s goal is to develop, in the very near future, a safe, fully digital, autonomous pilot system capable of taking control of an existing aircraft.
As part of its agreement with Dynamic Aviation, the startup will supply its autonomous flight technology to 55 of the aviation services contractor’s Beechcraft King Air aircraft.
Merlin Labs is already conducting test flights over the Mojave Air & Space Port in California.
While the technology promises fully autonomous navigation rather than a remote control, remote “supervisors” would still be on hand to monitor the aircraft and make sure that everything runs smoothly.
The autopilot technology is in use for a long time in the aviation industry. In fact, pilots often only really intervene during the take-off and landing phases of a flight. In light of the possibility of human error Merlin Labs considers that a fully autonomous system would eventually be the safest.