Thermal Camera for sUAVs

Tonbo Imaging, a spin out of Sarnoff/SRI, launches the Hawkvision series of compact, shutterless Thermal Cameras for Aerial Surveillance and Inspection applications.


Key features of the camera are -

1. Proven performance in the field

2. Full Frame Rate Video (NTSC/PAL)

3. Light weight (<40g) and low power consumption

4. Available with SD Card recording accessory (Photo/video capture)

The Camera is available in multiple resolutions (80x80, 384x288, 640x480).

Camera can be controlled from the Drone processor via UART.

Demonstration Video from the thermal camera is available here -

For more information about Tonbo Imaging please visit

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  • @Guy - Thanks for the quick feedback. 

    The Video was recorded using Tonbo's on-board SD card module. 

    Video Stabilization was necessary because the sUAV was not stable due to winds.

  • Ravi, as you can imagine it is not practical to hand out thermal imagers as trial units. We can sell you a demo unit at a discounted price. Where in Asia are you based? If you are in Bangalore, you can swing by to our India R&D centre and see a demo.

  • @arvind, I would like to try the VGA camera on a multicopter. I am located in asia.

  • @Arvind, we would be happy to oblige - we have just delivered 22 SurVoyeur MK-II aircraft with EO/IR gimbal ( QUARK and SONY Block cam)  and expect a follow-up block order in the next 6 to 8 months - send me a camera and I will fit it in our gimbal and how it performs!


    The Nampilot...

  • Nampilot, you are on target here. The Chinese camera you mention and the Israeli cameras use an older ULIS detector with relatively poor non-linearity in response. We use a fairly sensitive detector with more predictable responsivity. Our cameras fly on military drones in a dozen countries - both fixed wing and quad rotor configurations and their applications are primarily for homeland security and border protection. 

    Happy to work with you to do some evaluations. Your experience would be valuable.

  • You do not need to rotate it up or look at a uniform black body for NUC. It is calibrated across temperature ranges from -20 to +60 and uses scene information for NUC

    This works ONLY in quite specific and unique image conditions - We have used cameras that implement this mechanism and it fails to provide acceptable images when there are areas of large contrast in the image. We have used these in the desert regions of Namibia, where there is small scrub bush that glows brightly late at night after a hot day, and withing minutes of viewing, the images are full of stripes, shaded areas and other artifacts. This is not the first camera to implement this process, there is a Chinese camera and two Israeli cameras that we have tested that do this as well - I am sure there are many others. The process works well for known 'static' scenes that pan, such as a mounted CCTV camera panning a parking lot, etc. The only way to 'reset' the image contamination is a FFC or NUC. The advantage of the 'NUC by scene information' is that the interval between actual NUC is extended, the amount depending on the scene in view. 

    This is a complex field in uncooled thermal cameras and there is no free lunch with this process. Our aircraft are used by Homeland Security and the Namibian Anti-Poaching Units with extensive night flights part of the regime. We have tested many cameras under highly varied field conditions and the key in all cases to detecting small IR signatures in a hot environment is a clear image with good contrast discrimination. So far there is NO camera we have found that can get by without NUC for more than 5 to 8 minutes when low pixel density targets are being viewed. 

    I would love to be proved wrong...

    The Nampilot.

  • Fair enough. Pricing in single quantities for QVGA is in the $3k range and
    for VGA resolution in the $5k range. Exact pricing will depend on the optics chosen.
    We also make onboard video processing systems that can accept 2 video input, perform sensor fusion, electronic stabilization and target tracking. This board is priced in the $5k range.
  • Why can't you just publish a price?  Why all the cloak and dagger?  If you're going to come to a diy site and spam your products (there's nothing interesting in this 'blog' other than the product itself) why can't you give even a vague indication as to which people here will be able to afford it?

  • Guy,
    HawkVision is a non ITAR full frame rate camera. Manufactured in Singapore and India, it is based on a high sensitivity ASi detector and comes with DLC coated Ge optics.
    It is completely shutterless. You do not need to rotate it up or look at a uniform black body for NUC. It is calibrated across temperature ranges from -20 to +60 and uses scene information for NUC. Drop me a note if you need pricing.
    See related links to what you are looking for.
  • Also, remember that as with all shutterless thermal cameras, you will have to provide your own external shutter mechanism, or rotate ( via your gimbal?) the camera so that it views in both cases a uniform thermal field, for the sensor Flat Field Correction - which is needed regularly, every few minutes in flight...All uncooled thermal imagers require this if the camera sensor changes by more than a couple of degrees C. This happens easily in flight, with more or less air movement, etc.

    And of the half dozen or so Thermal Cameras I have tested ( USA, Israeli, Turkish, Italian..) so far the FLIR TAU-2 is the best ( has own internal FFC Shutter) , with the QUARK ( no shutter), next best in terms of ease of use, image quality and interface.

    We use these now exclusively in out SurVoyeur Aircraft.


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