A thermal camera company is eating the defense and enterprise drone sector

FLIR identified drones as a platform pairing for its sensing technology. Now it's going shopping.
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

In a case of technology penetration through acquisition and investment, thermal imaging company FLIR Systems has been making an aggressive push into the military drone sector. In February, I wrote about FLIR's acquisition of Endeavor Robotic Holdings, a military defense company specializing in ground robots, for a whopping $385 million. 

That acquisition came shortly after FLIR acquired aerial drone company Aeryon for $200 million in January, and overnight it made FLIR a powerful player in defense robotics.

Now the company has announced it has made a strategic investment in DroneBase, a global drone operations company that provides businesses access to one of the largest Unmanned Aerial Surveillance (UAS) pilot networks. FLIR will be the exclusive provider of thermal product solutions for DroneBase.

I reached out to Frank Pennisi, President, FLIR Industrial Business Unit, to get the scoop on the big moves. It turns out FLIR is making a gamble that drone adoption is still in the earliest stages across sectors that match up well with FLIR's technology portfolio.

"We are still at a very early stage of adoption of drones in enterprise and civil markets and we see significant growth opportunities ahead," says Pennisi. "We also see growth opportunities that extend beyond the traditional thermal cameras missions."

Founded in 1978, FLIR Systems is an industrial technology company focused on intelligent sensing. It's best known for its thermal imaging sensors, but it has a large suite of sensors.

"FLIR manufacturers a range of detection systems, including gas, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive," says Pennisi, "which we are actively pursuing for future drone usage within the oil and gas, utilities, public safety and military sectors, to name a few."

FLIR's rapid expansion into the sector through acquisition and partnership seems is a case of identifying drones as perfect platform pairing for its technology.

"We see tremendous opportunity across several of our current and growing markets including military and defense, enterprise, industrial and public safety missions -- the customer groups that use thermal imaging every day.  We are expanding awareness and capabilities in unmanned aerial ecosystems through partnerships and strategic investments."

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