"This is the autopilot speaking to you": This Google-funded startup has a fleet of 55 autonomous planes and wants us to travel with them

55 King Air aircraft to offer Fully autonomous flights, from take-off to landing. It’s the proposal of Merlin Labs, a Boston-based startup that recently raised $ 25 million in a funding round led by Google Ventures and First Round Capital.

Merlin Labs has partnered with Dynamic Aviation to try to achieve its goal of creating a fleet of autonomous aircraft, without human pilots and capable of transporting passengers. The company, however, does not build airplanes or drones, but rather focuses on artificial intelligence.

His work consists of a evolution of autopilots, to offer an autonomous driving system in aircraft. A job that they have already tried in “hundreds of missions” and have managed to attract the interest of Google.

In search of the first autonomous flight system for large aircraft

Merlin Labs wants to create the first autonomous flight system for large, fixed-wing aircraft. A system that complies with aviation regulations. At the moment they are still far from reaching this point, but the startup reports that it has made multiple aircraft tests at Mojave Air and Space Port.

In particular they have installed its platform on four different aircraft, from single-engine airplanes to airplanes with several of them.

Despite the long history of autopilots, autonomous aviation is a relatively new and growing field. In July 2019, the Technical University of Munich completed the first landing completely autonomously. A year later, in August 2020, an Airbus A350 took off and landed autonomously. Now it is the company Merlin Labs who wants to offer this possibility to other companies through its “automatic pilot” with an advanced level of autonomous driving.

Merlin Labs PlanesMerlin Labs Planes

Merlin Labs researchers use data generated by human pilots to build flight simulations with your AI system. As they describe, they have already incorporated “thousands of flight hours.”

It is now that they have teamed up with Dynamic Aviation, owners of the largest private fleet of King Air aircraft, to implement their autonomous aviation system. “We are proud to partner with Dynamic to begin the process of move autonomous flight from laboratory to market“explains Matthew George, CEO of Merlin Labs.

Merlin Without PilotMerlin Without Pilot

“Our immediate goal is to allow an aircraft to make its own decisions, with a pilot who maintains his presence for monitoring purposes“The company explains. In the long term, Merlin’s idea is to allow flights without any human pilot on board.

Merlin King AirMerlin King Air

More information | Merlin Labs

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