Based out of Salt Lake City, UT, Teal manufactures UAVs for public safety and defense applications, making it a true military UAV drone. Their flagship sUAS is the Golden Eagle. It recently joined several other aircraft on the Blue UAS Cleared list, having met stringent DOD standards.
In this article, we look at some of the UAV’s features, including a powerful AI software that could change way the military uses drones.
A Quick Look at the Golden Eagle
- Made in the USA
- NDAA Compliant/Blue UAS listed
- Encrypted communication link
- Supported GPS-denied flight
- 30-minute flight time
- FLIR Hadron EO/IR sensor
The Golden Eagle
Teal created the Golden Eagle drone as a short-range ISR aircraft, effectively extending a squad’s situational awareness beyond their line of sight.
More importantly, it enables squads to be self-sufficient. They can collect and analyze intelligence themselves, relying less on other resources for information. As a result, small ground elements move and strike with a greater degree of autonomy.
Teal included several hardware features to facilitate this mission. Because small infantry elements have limited logistical resources, portability is essential. Therefore, they designed folding arms making it easier to carry the drone in a backpack. Furthermore, the gimbal doesn’t require calibration for takeoff. This allows the Golden Eagle to deploy quickly.
Finally, the combination of the optical and thermal cameras is a significant advantage. Comparing color video with heat signatures provides a detailed picture of the environment, revealing the exact location of hidden subjects.
Powering the Golden Eagle’s hardware is a multi-vehicle software package called 4-Ship. Developed in partnership with Autonodyne, 4-Ship enables one operator to control four Golden Eagle aircraft simultaneously. They can fly in different formations, using AI to follow commands.
This feature is an excellent example of software as a force multiplier. As an example, consider the following scenario.
A squad (4-10 soldiers) takes up a position before moving onto their objective. While close to enemy forces, they are vulnerable to attacks. Fortunately, this squad is equipped with Golden Eagle drones. While they wait, one soldier sends up four aircraft. On command, they form a circle around their position, each one facing a different direction. Now the squad has a perimeter of optical and thermal cameras.
After some time, the batteries start to run low. To change them, the aircraft rotate out. This way, the squad is covered through the cycle. With fresh batteries, the aircraft return to their previous formation. Shortly after, the squad leader receives the command to engage the hostiles. The pilot commands all the aircraft to return and land. They are stowed in the backpack and the team moves in.
In short, 4-Ship aggregates four different data feeds with one Teal Air Control (TAC) to one pilot — a ratio unheard of with other systems.
An upgraded option exists to 4-Ship called 4-Ship+. The addition comes in the form of an extra 2 Golden Eagle aircraft, totaling 6 unmanned aerial units, and a secondary Teal Air Control (TAC). The secondary controller brings a new component to the operator’s fingertips, the ability to hand off control of the swarm to the other pilot utilizing the primary controller.
Software’s ability to increase hardware capabilities demonstrates two things. Firstly, it shows how far technology has come. Secondly, it indicates the direction unmanned systems are heading. Future UAS evolution will no doubt emphasize software integrations to meet the mission requirements.
“No longer are drone applications limited to a one-pilot/one-drone situation, drastically altering the potential missions for drones due to the ability of a single pilot to be able to control a team of drones. The 4-Ship already provides significant flexibility in applications, from security to agriculture to law enforcement, as well as the expected military applications, for which there is expressed interest,” said Jeff Thompson, Red Cat’s CEO. Red Cat Holdings is the parent company of Teal Drones, Inc.
Teal’s Golden Eagle represents an important step in the development of American drones. Portable, secure, and advanced, the Teal Golden Eagle drone equips defense operators to meet the challenges of today’s battle space.
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