Teal, an American drone company that first caught the public’s attention with a CEO who was still in high school, has grown up — big time. The company’s CEO, George Matus, is now in his early 20s. And the company is maturing too with the launch of Teal Golden Eagle, a commercial drone platform designed for aerial surveillance.
The Teal Golden Eagle drone has already been in use — but only for those in the know. The company was running pilot programs of its Golden Eagle drone for a handful of unnamed Fortune 500 companies, as well as government agencies. But this week, the commercial drone system became available for anyone in the public to purchase.
What is the Teal Golden Eagle drone?
Teal’s Golden Eagle is a US-made commercial drone system designed to provide aerial surveillance and awareness. Given its use-case, the drone was built with data security in mind.
The drone was recently selected as an approved system for the Department of Defense and Federal Government as part of DIU’s Blue sUAS Project and will soon be available on the GSA schedule.
Here’s what kind of tech is on the Golden Eagle drone:
- A Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 mobile computing platform with real-time edge processing: useful for enabling autonomy capabilities, computer vision and AI detection of people and vehicles
- Aerial data security features including AES 256 encryption and secure boot capability: by addressing the dual-use, dependency and data-flow concerns synonymous with foreign platforms, the Golden Eagle notably surpasses Department of Defense requirements and complies with section 848 of the FY20 NDAA
- A swappable payload at the front of the system that stabilizes two cameras – a surveillance-grade 4K sensor and a high-sensitivity FLIR thermal sensor: makes the drone useable for operations in any conditions, including low-light and no-light scenarios.
- Front-facing obstacle avoidance, wide-angle visual inertial odometry, and onboard artificial intelligence: essential in to enabling autonomous flight.
- A high-voltage propulsion system: this means high flight performance and endurance with a low acoustic signature, making the drone inaudible at minimal ranges — another useful feature for intelligence and surveillance
- A lightweight airframe: with its compact size, the Golden Eagle can fly at more than 50 mph for up to 50 minutes, across operational ranges of more than 2 miles. Golden Eagle also performs in extreme environments of 30+ MPH of wind resistance and between -32° and 110° Fahrenheit.
Teal said beyond just surveillance use-cases, the company is targeting customers in civil and defense, as well as in commercial industries including agriculture, surveying, construction, energy and logistics.
The Golden Eagle starts at $7,450 for the drone, and $4,350 for the controller (with ISM Band radio). The option to upgrade to the pDDL 1800 MHz Radio is $50 more.
A brief history of Teal
Teal’s first drones began in the consumer drone space. The company was first created in 2014. Two years later, when Matus was 18, the company announced the Teal drone, a modular device that promised to be everything — a camera drone, a racing drone, even an enterprise-grade drone. During that time, Matus earned dozens of accolades, including a spot on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list. Yet it took another two years for the drone to actually launch, debuting for public sale in 2018 as the Teal One, pivoting away from the universal platform idea (Teal did separately Teal launch a pared-down version of the initial product announced in 2016 by way of a racing-focused drone called the Teal Sport, which sold for about $500).
Neither drone really took off, and the company spent the last few years largely quiet. It turns out, Teal made a major pivot. In 2019, it was reported that Teal was one of six companies awarded a collective $11 million to design and build drones that meet Army requirements.
And this summer, thermal sensor-maker FLIR announced that a dual sensor module for drones called Hadron — which it built in close partnership with none other than Teal — would go on sale to the general public. That was a big deal — an indicator that Teal was cooking up a drone far more powerful than what the company announced years ago. That’s because Teal ses the Hadron on its 2-pound Golden Eagle drone platform for short-range reconnaissance and situational awareness.
The company’s ambitious CEO said he’s always had his sights on something begger.
“Golden Eagle is the system we’ve always wanted to build,” said George Matus, founder and CEO of Teal. “It’s the culmination of five years of work to bring to market a combined hardware and software platform that maintains the ethos of Teal One, but with new industrial-grade technology ready for the most demanding aerial operations.”
Teal Golden Eagle: made in America
The Teal Golden Eagle launching this week comes at an interesting time for America, amidst talks of regulations that could ban U.S. government agencies from using Chinese-made drones under the premise of drone data security concerns. The notion that the U.S. government might ban its own agencies from using Chinese-made drones largely kicked off in 2017, when the U.S. Army prohibited its troops from using DJI drones because of cyber-security concerns. More recently, the Trump administration has considered an executive order banning U.S. federal agencies from using foreign-made drones.
Many industry advocates, including DJI (which stands to lose presumably the most of any company should those regulations pass, given its massive market share) have called out such restrictions.
“If ham-fisted regulation is allowed to restrict what drones you fly, it’s only a matter of time before it can restrict whether you fly at all,” said DJI Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs Brendan Schulman at the AirWorks conference last month.
And many drone purchasers say they’d prefer buying drones made in America, such as the Teal Golden Eagle. A 2019 survey of first responders found that 88% of respondents said they want to purchase drones from a U.S.-headquartered company, while a study from The Hawthorn Group found that 71.3% of Americans said Chinese-made drones should be banned from U.S. government agencies.
The number of American drone companies is few and far between. With that said, Teal claims that it’s the only company that offers a fully US-made drone system with production capabilities to scale and drive mass adoption.