$385 million for former iRobot military spinoff spotlights use of robots in defense

FLIR is making aggressive moves into robotics through acquisition, including an iRobot spinoff and a drone company.
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

FLIR Systems has agreed to buy Endeavor Robotic Holdings, a military defense company specializing in ground robots, for a whopping $385 million. The latest buy comes on the heels of FLIR's acquisition of aerial drone company Aeryon for $200 million last month and makes FLIR a newly powerful player in the defense robotics space.

Endeavor, based outside Boston, has an impressive robotics pedigree and is a magnet for top talent in the field. The company started as an iRobot spinoff specializing in ground robots for defense and security applications. In 2016, iRobot carved out its defense business and sold it to Arlington Capital Partners in a deal worth around $45 million.

The huge price tag in FLIR's acquisition of Endeavor reflects the soaring use of robots in the defense and security sectors. Endeavor has more than 7,000 UGVs in the field, more than any other company, and its robots are used in military applications, by police and SWAT teams, and in power plants and infrastructure projects in 55 countries. The U.S. Army recently awarded Endeavor a lucrative contract for a man-transportable robot that can be deployed with ground troops. 

Among Endeavor's robots is a tiny throwable reconnaissance unit called FirstLook, as well as room and vehicle inspection robots, and 500-pound robot for heavy lifting in the field.


"The acquisition of Endeavor Robotics, coupled with previous acquisitions of Aeryon Labs and Prox Dynamics, has positioned FLIR as a leading unmanned solutions provider and advances the strategy we detailed at our Investor Day last year," says Jim Cannon, President and CEO of FLIR Systems. "This acquisition aligns with our evolution from sensors to intelligent sensing and ultimately solutions that save lives and livelihoods."

Based in Oregon, FLIR makes sensor systems and is best known for its thermal imaging technologies. The company's sensors are used in everything from environmental monitoring to autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicle navigation

The sensors are also used in defense and security applications. The recent acquisitions may signal a hard turn toward those defense roots for FLIR, which employs around 3,700. 

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