Teal 2 offers an American made, military-grade drone for night flights
While most of the drone industry’s attention is on the AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2023 conference happening this week at the Colorado Convention Center, a hugely important drone was just released at a completely different event. Military technology company Red Cat officially launched its new military-grade sUAS, the Teal 2 drone, at the recent 2023 AAAA Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit.
The military summit, which was held in Nashville, Tennessee, treated attendees to the world’s first-ever public display of the Teal 2 drone. The drone’s key differentiator is nighttime operations, a feature that’s especially-crucial for military operations.
“Most military operations take place at night, and the Teal 2 is exactly the sUAS that warfighters have been asking for,” Red Cat CEO Jeff Thompson said in a prepared statement.
Who are the customers of Teal 2?
If the name Teal 2 feels somewhat familiar to you, that’s because the drone isn’t completely new. It was previously available only to early-adopter customers, which included U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In fact, that agency ordered 54 units of the Teal 2 to provide supplemental airborne reconnaissance, surveillance and tracking capability, enhancing situational awareness for U.S. field commanders and agents. Teal also had been visiting NATO countries to discuss how Ukrainian forces might use the Teal 2 to counter Russian forces particularly after dark.
And now, the U.S.-made Teal 2 is now available to order for military, government and commercial purposes.
Since it’s launched, Teal has scored some big name customers. That includes Civil Air Patrol’s North Carolina Wing (NCWG), which in May 2023 ordered 10 Teal 2 drones to aid NCWG in providing emergency assistance to citizens across North Carolina and in neighboring states.
The drones were purchased for NCWG by the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management, and the teams held a flight training workshop in May 2023 at NCWG headquarters. That consisted of several classroom hours on day one, in which the mission pilots became familiar with the aircraft, software and mission functionality. The second day was spent actually flying the aircraft and completing the CAP Form 5U, CAP sUAS Pilot Flight Evaluation form, that must be completed by each pilot to be able to operate the drone on a mission.
Why does it matter that Teal 2 is made in America?
The new Teal 2 drone is set to be appealing for a few reasons. Sure, there are the specs themselves (more on those later), but the fact that it’s an American-made drone is especially standout. The U.S.-made system is manufactured at Red Cat’s purpose-built factory in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Red Cat subsidiary Teal Drones is also certified as “Blue UAS,” which is a designation given to manufacturers who are deemed authorized to provide equipment to the U.S. military. Teal is also one of only three drone manufacturers invited to participate in the U.S. Army’s Short Range Reconnaissance Tranche 2 (SRR T2), which was created to find companies that can deliver a portable drone usable within army platoons for surveillance and reconnaissance duties, as well as to improve situational awareness.
About the Teal 2 drone
The Teal 2 drone, which is being marketed with the slogan ‘Dominate the Night’ is a powerhouse in the darkness, largely thanks to a partnership with thermal camera maker FLIR. The drone is powered by a Snapdragon 845 as its main processor.
With it, the Teal 2 claims the title of the first drone to be equipped with Teledyne FLIR’s new Hadron 640R sensor. This provides end users with the highest resolution thermal imaging in a small (Group 1) form factor, optimized for nighttime operations (more on the FLIR sensor here).
The drone itself is super small with a compact, rugged design that is designed to be portable in just a backpack. It weighs 2.75 lbs. The drone can fly for at least 30 minutes up to a maximum flight speed of 23 mph, and it has a 5 km range from the controller.
Speaking of the controller, it’s called Teal Air Control (TAC) and it offers AES-256 encryption with a 720p downlink resolution. The Android-powered controller is heavier than the drone itself, at 3.7 lbs, and it has 6 hours of battery life.
About the Hadron 640R dual visible-thermal payload
A standout feature of the Teal 2 drone is its Hadron 640R dual visible-thermal payload. Like the Teal 2 drone, the Hadron 640R is also made in the U.S.A.
It pairs a 640×512 resolution radiometric Boson thermal camera with a 64MP visible camera together into a single easy-to-integrate module designed for drones like the Teal 2, as well as other unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), robotic platforms, and AI-ready applications where battery life and run-time are mission-critical.
“Teledyne FLIR maintains an impressive track record of innovation by developing industry-leading thermal imaging sensors and supporting integrators through the development and launch cycle,” said George Matus, founder and CEO of Teal, in a prepared statement. “Hadron 640R provides the military-grade Teal 2 with the situational awareness front-line personnel require to dominate the night in support of defense and public safety operations in a variety of environments.”
See the Teal 2 drone in action, here:
What is Teal (and its parent, Red Cat)?
Teal is owned by Puerto Rico-based Red Cat, which owns notable enterprise and military drone companies like Teal and Skypersonic. It also recently invested in Firestorm, a U.S.-based company building a modular drone that is also 3D-printed and payload agnostic (which could prove to be a serious military drone duo when paired with Teal’s offerings). Red Cat also has partnerships with Tomahawk Robotics and Reveal Technology.
Teal started in the early 2010s, led by a then teenage founder with the promise of modular drones largely focused at consumers. Its founder, George Matus, is now in his 20s, and Teal is focused now on military drones.
In 2019, Teal became one of six companies awarded a collective $11 million to design and build drones that meet Army requirements. In 2020 it launched the Teal Golden Eagle, a $14,800 commercial drone platform designed for aerial surveillance that is on the Department of Defenses’ Defense Innovation Unit Blue UAS Cleared List.
Teal to team up with Doodle Labs
Separately, Teal announced that it will partner with Doodle Labs, which builds Blue UAS-certified, industrial-grade wireless networking solutions, to help build its sUAS prototype for the U.S. Army’s Short Range Reconnaissance (SRR) program.
Through the partnership, Teal will integrate Doodle Labs’ Helix Mesh Rider Radio into its SRR prototype, enabling it to reliably transmit thermal imagery, AES-256 encrypted video and other high-bandwidth data back to a ground station 3+ miles away. Mesh Rider Radio uses FIPS 140-3 certified encryption, protecting this data and flight control functionality even in contested environments. Teal’s previously announced technology partners for its SRR effort include Teledyne FLIR and Immervision.
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