Fleet Financing

This AI startup puts a fleet of planes in the sky without human pilots

Meet the pilot of tomorrow, today:

Credit: Merlin Labs
Look at my, no pilot

AI startup Merlin Labs today turned off stealth mode to announce a $ 25 million fundraising round and a partnership with Dynamic Aviation to put a fleet of 55 King Air planes in the sky with no humans on board.

CEO and Founder of Merlin Labs, Matthew George, told Neural:

What we are building is software that creates a pilot who thinks for himself… from take-off to fully autonomous touchdown.

The big idea: See a need, fill a need. Merlin Labs uses autonomous software technology and builds an artificially intelligent pilot. Autonomous fixed-wing flight may sound familiar, but there is a huge difference between designing a remote or hybrid drone from scratch and building a system that can fly almost any fixed-wing aircraft.

How it works: Merlin Labs has offices in Boston, Los Angeles, Denver, and New Zealand. But the belle of the ball is his testing center in the Mojave Desert.

A King Air plane tilts over the Mojave Desert.
Credit: Merlin Labs
Merlin Labs tests its planes at the port of Mojave Air and Space.

There, the company’s researchers use data generated by human pilots to build flight simulations to test their AI systems.

From there, the team outfitted a variety of planes, ranging from the smaller boats to the large King Air planes pictured in the images above, with the hardware needed to run their autonomous pilot system.

And after: George told Neural the company was working with government and civilian partners to develop and implement the technology, “We think it starts with freight.”

He also said the technology could have applications in many other areas, including military transport, agriculture and firefighting.

Quick setting: We don’t usually cover funding, but it’s definitely worth publishing. Merlin Labs announces much more than funding.

From what we understand, the company plans to become the first fully certified autonomous flight system – as in, certified by necessary government entities as being in full compliance with aviation regulations – autonomous flight system for large aircraft at fixed wing.

And its launch in partnership with Dynamic Aviation, owner of the largest King Air fleet in the world.

If Merlin Labs can possibly deploy an artificially intelligent pilot that companies such as Amazon and UPS or agencies such as the US Air Force and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Fighting can implement on their existing fleets. , that could be a game-changer.

In the meantime, Merlin Labs is already operating its first King Air autonomously and has 55 more for what will become the world’s first fleet of fully autonomous fixed-wing aircraft.

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