Hadron 640+ series

How Teledyne FLIR’s new Hadron 640+ series thermal camera leverages AI

Teledyne FLIR’s Hadron 640 series thermal camera just got an upgrade. And to indicate the new and improved, AI-powered version of the popular drone thermal camera, the newer model has a spiffier tag on its name: the Hadron 640+.

The Hadron 640+ launched in June 2024 in two versions: radiometric and non-radiometric. This camera is really a two-in-one camera. The first, is a standard visible camera, while the other is a thermal camera. With that dual thermal and visible camera, drone pilots can capture both heat signatures invisible to the naked eye in tandem with a traditional 4K video feed in real-time.

Here’s everything you need to know about Teledyne FLIR’s new Hadron 640+ series thermal camera, and how it works:

Inside the new Hadron 640+ series thermal camera

Hadron 640+ series thermal camera

The key features that distinguish the new Hadron 640+ versus the standard Hadron 640? Enhanced thermal sensitivity and what’s called “SWaP-Optimized design” which allows for out-of-the-box integration. And of course, AI is the buzzword in tech these days, and this thermal camera certainly leverages AI.

Here are some key highlights of the new modules:

  • 640 x 512 resolution Boson+ longwave infrared (LWIR) camera module.
  • Industry-leading thermal sensitivity of 20 millikelvin (mK) or better.
  • Can see through total darkness, smoke, most fog, and glare, allowing operational awareness day and night.
  • Provides temperature measurements for every pixel in the scene.

This camera is also super small, making it ideal for placement on drones that demand long flight times. It weighs just 56 grams. Plus, it doesn’t consume much power. After all, it works at just 1.8W. The camera itself is quite durable with IP54-rated dust and water protection.

How FLIR’s Prism software leverages AI

The AI integration is made possible due to the Teledyne FLIR Prism software, which launched in June 2022. The Prism software framework provides classification, object detection, and object tracking, enabling perception engineers to quickly start integrating thermal cameras for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicle (AV) systems. It was originally built for automotive perception system developers, with features such as visible-and-thermal image fusion and advanced thermal image processing capabilities designed particularly for dark lighting conditions.

But it’s proven to be useful for aerial vehicles too. The relatively-new Prism AI software enables detection and tracking in drones. In turn, it creates classification models and Prism ISP libraries for super-resolution, turbulence mitigation and contrast enhancement.

Who is the Hadron 640+ series thermal camera for?

In short, the Hadron 640+ series thermal camera serves a range of drone applications that rely on thermal cameras. That includes search and rescue teams relying on hot spots to find lost people, firefighters trying to identify hot spots in buildings, or even military applications that operate at night when it’s otherwise dark out (and thus difficult for a visual camera to see).

Among those key military customers is Teal, a Utah-based drone company that makes military drones. Their portfolio most notably includes the Teal 2 and the Teal Golden Eagle.

“The Hadron 640 series features enhanced thermal sensitivity and HD visible cameras to provide superior performance within a compact package for the support of our NATO allies,” said George Matus, CTO of Red Cat, which is the parent company of Teal.

Teal has a long history of close ties to FLIR. When FLIR first designed the Hadron module, it worked in close partnership with both Teal and another American drone company, Vantage Robotics. Naturally, both of their flagship drones integrated the module.

The new-and-improved version means not just good things for Flir’s prospects, but for the drone companies that rely on Flir’s sensors to make their products stand out.

“Continued collaboration with Teledyne FLIR enables rapid payload and performance innovation for Teal drones, accelerates time to market, and equips warfighters with the best possible technology for operational success,” Matus said.

How to get your hands on the Hadron 640+

Hadron 640+ series

Good news if you need to buy American, and in particular need to adhere to strict security protocols: The Hadron 640 series products are all dual use and classified under US Department of Commerce jurisdiction.

A huge chunk of FLIR’s customers are federal customers. For example, in 2020, approximately 31% of Flir’s revenues were from the U.S. federal government and its agencies. FLIR itself is an American tech company based in Wilsonville, Oregon.

As far as where to buy one, you can go directly to Teledyne FLIR. Though for more personalized support, it’s generally better to shop through FLIR’s authorized dealers. Top dealers include B&H Photo, Ripping It Outdoors and Drone Nerds.

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