Ribbit, a cargo airline startup developing software for autonomous flight, has signed a $1.3M contract with Transport Canada and Innovative Solutions Canada to begin testing self-flying aircraft in remote regions. The company has completed over 200 hours of hands-free flight on a two-seat airplane, and is rapidly advancing operational testing in preparation for commercial service.
The company will provide Transport Canada with a single aircraft along with remote crew and maintenance services to sustain autonomous cargo flights for one year. Transport Canada will also leverage this data to help inform future aviation regulations, standards, and policy.
Ribbit sees its technology as a solution to pressing logistical issues facing northern communities and businesses.
“Many rural and remote areas are served by larger airplanes that fly infrequently,” said CEO Carl Pigeon. “Ribbit takes a smaller aircraft and uses autonomy to drastically change the unit economics of that plane. This lets us offer reliable next-day or two-day service and improve supply chains.”
Ribbit was issued a Special Flight Operations Certificate in 2022 authorizing uncrewed flight tests, and the company has received letters of intent from leading retailers totalling $42M/yr.
“We have been working with government, community, and private partners to ensure this technology will serve a real need. We are excited to enable a future where anybody can ship and receive goods quickly and reliably no matter where they are”, added COO Jeremy Wang.
The company is initially focused on shipping time-sensitive goods to northern Canada, where 120M lbs of food alone are sold annually. However, the long-term vision will see autonomous aircraft used for a wide range of cargo operations and aerial work.