Google Ventures-backed Merlin Labs reveals autonomous plane technology

Flush with cash from Google Ventures and others, Merlin Labs announced plans to implement its tech in King Air planes.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read

Meet Merlin Labs, a company that's remained in the shadows until now. On Wednesday, the company emerged from "stealth mode" to introduce itself, thanks to a successful funding round for its autonomous plane technology. Merlin Labs isn't actually building a physical plane, flying car or eVTOL -- but instead is eyeing totally autonomous technology for aircraft to fly itself. You have to click the video above, because it's spooky to see the flight gear move of its own accord.

The company named its initial investors, which includes Google Ventures among many: We don't have specific dollar amounts, but we do know this initial round of investments secured $25 million. With this funding, Merlin Labs plans to implement its autonomous technology into a fleet of King Air planes to prove its worth.

So far, the startup said it executed numerous "autonomous missions on multiple aircraft types," including twin turboprop aircraft like King Air planes. The technology onboard focuses on total onboard autonomy rather than remote piloting, which helps Merlin Labs stand out.

The 55-strong fleet of King Air crafts comes from Dynamic Aviation, which will work with Merlin Labs to test the autonomous technology, likely at the firm's dedicated flight facility at the Mojave Air & Space Port in California. The goal is to bring a certifiable autonomous system to fixed-wing aircraft. If it does, it would be a game changer for air travel. Merlin Labs may be new, but it's now officially one to watch -- especially with backing from a company like Google.

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