Designer and manufacturer of security and defense drones, Teal, says it has signed an agreement to use sensors produced by Canadian optical products specialist Immervision to provide its UAVs with low-light vision capabilities for aerial data collection operations.

The tie-up with Immervision was announced during the first day of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and marked the first major move by Teal holding company Red Cat since it decided to off-load its consumer UAV tech divisions and focus on defense and security applications. The aim of those deals is to facilitate the impressive gains Teal has made over the past 18 months in the specialized sector, including accords struck with US military agencies.

Under the agreement, the new generation of Teal’s flagship Golden Eagle drones now under development will be equipped with two sensors produced by Immervision. In addition to improving optical and data collection capabilities at night, in fog, under bridges, inside buildings, and in other low-light scenarios, tech supplied by the Montréal-based company will provide stereoscopic vision to enhance Teal’s autonomous pilot system

The partners say those Immervision assets will allow the next itereration of Teal’s Golden Eagle drones to create 3D maps the UAVs will use to locate and navigate themselves geographically in low-light situations, as well as in GPS-denied areas.

“The lens is designed to maximize the concentration of light per pixel on the image sensor to provide the best image quality in low-light conditions, across the complete field of view,” said Jean-Sébastien Landry, Immervision’s director of product management. “Our camera module has been designed from the ground up to address the challenging requirements of operating safely in low-light conditions where other sensors are inefficient. It is capable of seeing objects in a dark environment at 1 lux, which is equivalent to deep twilight.”

Red Cat CEO Jeff Thompson indicated the incorporation of Immervision sensors was part of the ongoing effort to augment Teal drone performance capabilities, and meet the ever-rising demands and increasingly complex user scenarios of current and potential clients.

“Because most military operations happen at night, having a low-light solution is a key capability for Teal, and we are very pleased to partner with Immervision to make this possible,” Thompson said. “Between this new development and other nighttime-focused capabilities on the horizon, Teal’s new model will be the go-to small drone that defense and security forces will turn to when they need to ‘Dominate the Night’.” 

The move comes less than two months after Red Cat’s decision to divest from its consumer units Rotor Riot and Fat Shark in order to focus on the security and defense business Teal has picked up in recent months. 

Among that was the US Customs and Border Protection agency agreeing to buy $1 million in Golden Eagle drones – part of a wider government procurement budget of nearly $100 million still up for grabs. Earlier the company was short-listed in the US Army’s Short Range Reconnaissance Tranche 2 (SRR T2) Program, a competitive process aiming to develop a powerful but portable small craft for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.