Self-Flying Airplanes being developed by Google-backed Merlin Labs

By Ashika Rajan, Trainee Reporter
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Autonomous Plane
Representational Image

An autonomous plane is being developed by the tech giant Google-backed company Merlin Labs, though this does not mean that the jet will fly itself fully automatically.

Merlin Labs is working on technology that allows an airplane’s flight gear and control panel to operate independently. The company said that it is developing the ultimate autonomous system for all flying objects.

The breakthrough technology company had been in stealth mode until May 26, when it announced that it had raised $25 million in funding from GV previously Google Ventures and First Round Capital.

It stated that the team had completed hundreds of autonomous missions on a variety of aircraft types, including complex twin-turboprop aircraft. The Merlin Labs autonomy platform is aircraft-agnostic, focuses on onboard autonomy rather than remote piloting, and is being integrated into a wide range of public and private aircraft.

The US-based company has also announced a 55-aircraft partnership with Dynamic Aviation, the owners of the world’s largest private King Air fleet. On the same day, the company posted a video on YouTube detailing how it began working on the technology in 2018 and successfully landed for the first time in 2019.

Merlin Co-founder and CEO Mr. Matthew George said in a statement that the company is excited to join with Dynamic to start the process of taking autonomy from the lab to the market.

Mr. Michael Stoltzfus, Dynamic Aviation CEO stated that they are honored to have Merlin as a partner and that they will use this cutting-edge technology in an operational platform.

Merlin Labs stated that its goal is to allow an aircraft to make its judgments with only a pilot there to observe it. The company’s long-term goal is to “enable aircraft to fly safely without a human on board.”

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