Drones At Work

Tunnel Radio
SKIA Industrial Drone

Battle for the Skies.

North America’s commercial drone industry will hit $2.4 billion by 2020, increasing in value almost 2,000% from 2015. With China owning upwards of 70% of the market, US government agencies grounding foreign drones over security concerns, and dozens more compliance regulations in play, there’s a huge opportunity for US manufactured UAVs (or unmanned aerial vehicles) to secure a section of the market.

One company rising to this challenge is Tunnel Radio. Traditionally focused on wireless communication and asset tracking for mining, utilities, and oil / gas industries, they approached TEAGUE with the intent of expanding their portfolio to address the underserved market for industrial grade utility drones.

With an upcoming demo for a large potential customer rapidly approaching, TEAGUE needed to swiftly address the mechanical, usability, and aesthetic challenges of Tunnel Radio’s first airborne industry solution, SKIA.

Thinking Through Making.

Taking into account UAV regulations, material restrictions for a first-of-its-kind aluminum frame, weight, budget, time constraints, and every functional requirement of creating the best product possible, we quickly decided to go beyond the linear the list of fixes: TEAGUE elected to completely reorganize and design the vehicle’s architecture from the ground up.

Our rapid, agile methodology of “thinking through making” enabled our designers and engineers to be decisive, iterate quickly, and solidify final prototype designs within a very short project timeline.

A Self-Solving Puzzle.

We began by laying out all the components of SKIA and considering each of their unique requirements: how the arms would deploy and lock, the landing gear, sensors, and handle placement, battery enclosure location and door access. All of these (and more) would need to fit and work together like pieces of a puzzle. 

Starting from the propellers, we worked our way inward. As we addressed certain challenges, others resolved themselves in turn: Adding a handle to solve for rugged portability not only helped define where we could mount required sensors and cameras, it also established the drone's “front" and “back", helping first time pilots orient the vehicle with added visual ease.

​"When we went searching for our design partner, we asked ourselves the basic question: Who’s the best? All our criteria invariably led us to TEAGUE. And we haven’t been disappointed.”

 -Patrick Fletchall, Business Development at Tunnel Radio

Flying High.

Instead of simply addressing the handful of concerns that Tunnel Radio came to us with, TEAGUE reengineered almost every aspect of functionality, improving usability, and finishing it off with the durable, industrial design that customers would expect.

Beyond streamlining and increasing efficiency from a usability perspective, TEAGUE’s redesign of SKIA will save Tunnel Radio 31% per drone in manufacturing and production costs, helping them rapidly achieve ROI and allowing for higher profit margins.

With stunning renders and a fresh prototype in hand, Tunnel Radio debuted SKIA at the NWPPA Engineering and Operations Conference in Tacoma. The results reinforced their decision to expand their product and services portfolio.

Our partnership persists today; together Tunnel Radio and TEAGUE continue to push the boundaries of industrial grade utility drones, with the goal of setting new standards and precedents for American manufactured UAVs.

Client

Tunnel Radio

Industry

Transportation

Services

Product Design + Development

Expertise

INDUSTRIAL DESIGN, USER EXPERIENCE, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, PROTOTYPING