Reliable Robotics and Astral Aviation Collaborate to Improve Safety and Connectivity Across Sub-Saharan Africa with Automated Aircraft

Reliable Robotics, a leader in autonomous aircraft systems, and Kenyan airline Astral Aviation, today announced a strategic collaboration to improve aviation safety and increase air cargo connectivity in sub-Saharan Africa through the use of automated aircraft. Africa is poised for economic and trade growth, but held back by challenges related to safety, speed and cost of transport, including limited intra-African air services. The companies will work together to develop operational, regulatory and business plans to launch automated aircraft operations in sub-Saharan Africa.

Reliable Robotics is working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to certify its automation system on the Cessna 208 Caravan and to begin commercial cargo operations in the United States. The collaboration with Astral Aviation will enable further international expansion into Africa where the Caravan is a key utility aircraft with nearly 350 currently in service on the continent.

“We are bracing for explosive growth in regional trade and the need to transport much more air cargo across Africa,” said Sanjeev Gadhia, Founder and CEO of Astral Aviation. “Automation will allow us to serve more routes. We look forward to working with Reliable to safely transport larger payloads over longer distances at lower cost with remote-controlled aircraft.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) increases by 4%1. The widespread adoption of mobile technologies has allowed e-commerce to overtake legacy banking, communications and retail infrastructure, and is expected to reach half a billion users by 2025.2. Expanding the air cargo network is key to GDP and e-commerce growth in a continent with landlocked countries, busy ports, poor road networks, sparse transport infrastructure and average distance between major cities of 4,100 kilometers.

“The African aerospace sector is ready for change and automated aircraft can be part of the solution to market constraints,” said Robert Rose, co-founder and CEO of Reliable Robotics. “Astral has deep experience operating in Africa, and we share a vision of how automation and remotely piloted aircraft can help the region reach its economic potential with safer, more flexible and more cost-effective air transport.

Reliable has established leadership in the design, construction and demonstration of its remotely piloted system and made aviation history with landmark flights in 2019 and 2021 in Northern California. Astral Aviation is the fastest growing all-cargo airline in Africa and recently announced that it will be the launch operator of the Embraer E190 cargo aircraft. Together, Reliable Robotics and Astral Aviation are working on a roadmap to expand automated air cargo solutions that will bring significant economic and societal benefits to Africa.

1 International Monetary Fund: Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa, April 2022
2 International Trade Administration, United States Department of Commerce: The Rise of E-Commerce in Africa

About Reliable Robotics

Reliable Robotics was launched in 2017 to bring safe, certified autonomous vehicles to commercial aviation as soon as possible. The company’s automation system enables remote operation of any type of aircraft and will expand access to more locations. Reliable’s vision is to transform the way we move goods and people around the planet with safer, more convenient and more affordable air travel. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., and has a workforce distributed around the world.

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