A little while ago, I received an email from someone named “George” inviting me out to an exclusive preview in Park City, UT of what he called “the fastest out-of-the-box drone in the world.” I was intrigued as I’m a relative newbie when it comes to drones (although I have one). But drones are a HOT consumer product, especially for families, so I wanted to find out more. As it turns out, there was more to the story than just a super-fast quadcopter. How about the fact that “George” (full name is George Matus) is only 18 years old – yeah, he just graduated from high school – and has built a drone company, Teal Drones, based on what he wanted a drone to be.
In mid-July, the Teal Drones team flew me out to Utah in order to get an exclusive weekend preview of a few Teal drone prototypes. Among those invited were some YouTubers who really know drones and RC vehicles: Ryan Becker of Flyin’ Ryan RC, Dustin Dunnill, and Jay Eakman of the JRESHOW. These guys are true drone geeks who know the drone ecosystem and who are pretty darn good drone pilots (as well as have pretty solid YouTube channels). Me, well, I’m just a dad who likes looking at how gadgets fit into the family. Drones fit that mold pretty well I guess and part of the reason why I was invited. Regardless, we were all really excited to learn more about the Teal drone. Oh, and that guy in the middle of the picture below is George.
The demo day started out with a lunch with George Matus and his small team. George gave us an overview of Teal Drones, his vision, the company and what we could expect during the day together. Ryan, Dustin and Jay all asked extremely relevant and technical questions to which George had an answer to each one. It was pretty clear to me that he had really thought things through and that he was quite passionate about his drones and the company. While the geek talk about the Teal drone was fascinating and a bit over my head at times (and I learned I need to get some better gear like an RC controller and an FPV headset kit), what really struck me is the fact that I was talking to a young entrepreneur, a recent high-school graduate who had only just gotten his driver’s license and a guy who was realizing his dream.
After lunch, we headed out to a beautiful park area complete with little lakes and open fields in order to see the Teal drone in action. It’s a perfect environment for drone flying provided you are a competent pilot and you have a drone that won’t fly away from you or lose connection and plunge into the gadget-killing waters below. In the covered gazebo, we got lots of information about Teal Drones, had hands on time with various prototypes, and were able to ask George lots and lots of questions, and for those skilled pilots, some time actually flying the Teal. As my skills are rudimentary at best, I decided to watch the others in action.
Not only did I learn a lot about Teal Drones and about flying, I also got quite intrigued at learning more about George. After all, I have 3 daughters right around his age (a bit younger) and I was fascinated by learning what possessed him to create this company.
But before I talk about George, here’s a bit more information about Teal Drones.
Teal Drones – modular & fast
One thing that struck me about how George described his vision was the fact that many consumer drones in the market are pretty much aligned to particular use cases. Want to do aerial photography? There are drones for that. Want to race? Build your own or look for a completely different type. Just starting out with drones? There are plenty of low-cost options.
George wanted something different. He wanted a drone that could do everything. His vision was to design a modular drone, one that could grow with you as your skills got better. One that could be flown using your iPhone and WiFi or via a higher-end RC Controller (like the pros). He wanted to be able to easily replace parts or swap out propellers from 3 blades to 4 blades. One where you could quickly add a First Person View (FPV) kit so you could essentially see how birds fly. One where you could add other types of sensors like infrared imaging. One that had good battery performance. And one that was fast.
And he did it.
At our event, George showcased a variety of prototypes and pre-production models that he and others piloted. They were fast (up to 70 MPH) and able to handle 40 MPH winds. It was windy out in the fields, but the Teal drone barely noticed. He raced the teal off into the distance in seconds until it was barely a speck on the horizon and then a few seconds later it was there hovering in front of him. Then it took off vertically and again was just a dot in the sky. And whoomp, it was back again in front of him. I was truly impressed.
Some of the other guys there did speed tests against another consumer drone. It was like a Ferrari versus a VW bug. And again, while I did not fly the Teal (I’m going to wait until I get my hands on it as I was promised one of the first 500), I did get to experience the speed of the Teal coupled with George’s racing ability, all via a FPV setup. I soared like a bird, raced from one area to another, went into a free fall, only to be shooting along near the ground later. It was better than a roller coaster ride honestly. (I decided I really need a FPV rig!)
Below is a video I put together of some of the highlights of our hands-on experience. It includes George talking about his vision and plenty of screaming fast flying!
Here are just a fraction of the impressive specs of the Teal (full specs on their website):
- Max Horizontal Speed – 70+ MPH
- Wind Resistance – 40 MPH
- Flight Time – 10 minutes (high performance battery)
- Flight Time – 20 minutes (high endurance battery)
- Weight – 730g
- Body Material – Carbon Infused/Polycarbonate Plastic
- Connectivity – you name it, if it can fly something already, it can probably connect
- Range – WiFi: 300ft, extended WiFi: 2500ft, 2.4ghz Tx: 5000ft+
- Camera – 13 MP with up to 4K 24fps video
- Live View Quality – up to 720p
Again, read all of the specs on their site!
Convinced yet? This is one capable drone. And the clincher for me is the nVidia chip (TX1) powering everything and crunching all of the sensor data. And this chip can increase the GPS accuracy from a meter or so to just a few centimeters.
I could probably ramble on and on at how impressed I was with the Teal. From my limited knowledge, it looked great! But listening to the other invited experts there as well, I could tell they were just as excited as I was. Be sure to check out their YouTube channels for more info.
The Young Entrepreneur
Yes, I was impressed with the Teal. But more so, by George Matus. He’s been building and piloting drones and RC vehicles for much of his life (again, he’s only 18). And he’s so passionate about this space (and knowledgable), you can quickly tell how much he loves his new “day job” as the CEO and founder of Teal Drones.
After the hands-on time with the Teal and as I reflected back on the activities of the day, I realized that I would need to round out the tech side of the Teal drone with the personal side of its inventor. It’s rare, even now, to find really young entrepreneurs and given that I’m a parent, I thought it was important to share his words of inspiration with other parents, young inventors and students.
So I decided to interview him about the company and his background. You can see our video interview below and also on YouTube.
I hope that what George has accomplished at such a young age can and will be inspirational for other students, kids and even adults.
I wish George and Teal Drones all the best of success. He’s has developed a product based on his passion and expertise and it shows. His designs are carefully thought out. The fact that the Teal is modular, expandable and can grow with your skill level shows his desire to make a difference, make experts happy and pull new drone newbies like me into the fold.
The Teal drone can be reserved now. The price is $1299. If you reserve it now, you get one of the 500 (numbered) Signature Series which also includes the Endurance Package (20 minute battery) and a custom design. It should ship around the 2016 holidays. From what I have witnessed first hand, it’s going to be great.
Disclosure Text : Teal Drones paid for my trip, meals and lodging to visit Park City, UT in order to experience the Teal drone. I have a material connection because I received a gift and/or sample of a product or service in preparing to review the product/service and write this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. All opinions within this article are my own and are typically not subject to the editorial review from any 3rd party. More information can be found in my About page.
HTD says: I’m not quit sure which is more impressive honestly, the Teal Drone or the guy who invented it!