SpaceX veterans target self-flying cargo planes

Silicon Valley has been hard at work on the vexing challenge of autonomous cars. Now veterans of Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) and Tesla Inc are announcing what they have been up to: a new start-up working on self-flying airplanes for cargo.

Reliable Robotics Corp is not trying to invent a new kind of aircraft. The idea is to bring autonomous capability to existing planes, starting with smaller aircraft that ferry cargo.

In June, with approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Reliable Robotics demonstrated a fully automated remote landing of a Cessna 208 Caravan turboprop owned by FedEx Corp.

Reliable Robotics chief executive Robert Rose led flight software at Elon Musk’s SpaceX, then led the early Autopilot program at Tesla Inc before joining Google.

He cofounded Reliable Robotics in 2017 with Juerg Frefal, who worked at SpaceX for almost a decade.