Thermal imaging giant FLIR Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: FLIR) acquires drone manufacturer, Altavian, thereby setting the stage for its move to provide “comprehensive mission coverage within Group 1 Unmanned Systems for Defense Customers,”* according to a FLIR press release.
Thermal-sensor maker, FLIR, has long been one of the most important, drone-adjacent companies because it has provided the essential technology to the drone industry. It has made it possible for drones to use thermal cameras for many purposes, such as finding missing people in remote areas, sensing the hottest spots in fires, testing solar panels, etc. By acquiring Altavian, Inc., a privately-held manufacturer of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) for defense and public safety customers of drones likely means that FLIR is planning to become a significant leader in the drone market.
According to a press release: “Altavian’s airframes integrate multiple sensors, including FLIR thermal technology, to provide users with decision support and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.”*
Altavian was founded in 2011, in Gainesville, Florida, and has become known for its designs and manufacturers Group 1 UAS solutions, for both long and short range operations. Altavian’s M440 Ion is one of five manufactured drone solutions listed with the U.S. Department of Defense, “Blue sUAS,” of trusted solutions for U.S. military and federal agencies.
FLIR’s acquisition of Altavian makes it possible for the company to offer a fully integrated drone solution with their thermal imaging payloads. As recently as last year (2019), FLIR acquired the assets of drone company, Aria, which was formerly known as CyPhy Works. It went on to invest $200 million in the Canadian drone manufacturer, Aeryon, as well as investing significantly in drone operations company, DroneBase.
Roger Wells is the General Manager of “The Unmanned Systems and Integrated Solutions,” a business of FLIR Systems Defense Technologies Segment, under which Altavian will be integrated. He enthusiastically shared his thoughts on FLIR’s acquisition of Altavian:
“Altavian’s proven engineering expertise and assets will allow us to offer customers the most comprehensive solution portfolio of any American sUAS provider. With the addition of both a low-cost, rapidly deployable quadcopter and a longer range fixed-wing UAS, FLIR is strengthening its already impressive drone lineup, including our Black Hornet and SkyRaider platforms used extensively by militaries around the globe. We’re excited about the multiple new franchise opportunities FLIR will be able to pursue for defense, public safety, and industrial markets worldwide.”*
Altavian primarily focuses on government and defense cases, and is one of five drone manufacturers approved by the U.S. Department of Defense under the Blue sUAS program to sell to the U.S. military and federal agencies. Thus, Altavian will be integrated into FLIR Systems’ Defense Technologies Segment.Though it’s not just the U.S. government that FLIR is working with, but it also has a contract with the French Armed Forces.
With its airframes integrating multiple sensors, including their thermal technology, FLIR is able to provide users with decision support and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.
FLIR’s acquisition of Altavian means that FLIR is becoming a major leader in the drone market.