Pilotless Cessna planes to advance BVLOS drone ops in North Dakota?

North Dakota bvlos drone

Vantis, a state-wide network enabling beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone flights in North Dakota, has found a new partner to further its mission of becoming a hub of commercial UAS activity.

Vantis is teaming up with California-based Reliable Robotics, which is currently working toward the certification of its Remotely Operated Aircraft System on a popular cargo aircraft, the Cessna 208 Caravan. The collaboration will directly support the North Dakota Department of Transportation’s participation in the Federal Aviation Administration’s BEYOND program for UAS.

Trevor Woods, executive director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS), which administers Vantis, calls the partnership “exciting and mutually beneficial,” explaining that both Vantis and Reliable Robotics are working toward expanding the capabilities of large UAS operations.

Robert Rose, cofounder and CEO of Reliable Robotics, adds:

We have a long-standing relationship with NPUASTS and share a vision of enabling UAS and remotely piloted operations at scale across North Dakota.

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Reliable Robotics was founded in 2017, and within an 18-month period, it flew an uncrewed Cessna 172 over a populated area in controlled airspace. Then in 2021, the company demonstrated remote piloting from a private control center – a major milestone as it showed that Reliable Robotics’ systems and technology worked well for commercial operations.

Meanwhile, Vantis has received a total of $48 million in funding from North Dakota’s state legislature to build a first-of-its-kind state-wide UAS network for commercial use.

As Jim Cieplak, program manager of Vantis, sums up:

North Dakota has invested in the creation and build-out of Vantis in order to enable commercial UAS flights that are widespread and commonplace. Our collaboration with Reliable Robotics will build toward that goal and prove the viability of Vantis in commercial use cases.

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