FLIR may be known for its thermal cameras, but the Oregon-based company this month announced an investment in drone software from a startup called DroneSense.
FLIR makes thermal cameras for a variety of industries, but has recently ramped up its efforts in creating drone-specific thermal cameras — used fir applications such as giving farmers aerial views of their land, allowing firefighters to detect hot spots in buildings and for search and rescue crews looking to spot people.
And in line with FLIR’s public safety-focused ambitions, the company has invested in DroneSense, a software startup building a product intended to help organizations to build, manage, and scale unmanned aircraft programs. The investment is intended to help DroneSense to better collaborate on leveraging FLIR’s thermal imaging and other sensing payloads for UAS platforms used by first responders.
“In particular, the DroneSense software will enable those first responders to better scale and track their FLIR payloads to create more effective operations designed to save lives in emergency situations,” a spokesperson for FLIR said.
FLIR would not say how much money it had invested, except that it was a minority investment in the company.
DroneSense, an Austin, Texas-based startup, was founded in 2015 and has raised $4.9 million from investors, according to regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
FLIR made its first official foray into drones back in November 2015, when it announced the Vue Pro, a tiny thermal camera designed to fit a GoPro mount (which was commonplace in drones at the time, such as the DJI Phantom II). But drone operators had been using FLIR’s thermal cameras long before that. As far back as 2010, a U.S. Coast Guard used a Flir thermal imaging camera on one of its drones and discovered that a fishing boat was actually smuggling drugs.
FLIR’s technology for drones has drastically improved since then, culminating most recently in a dual-thermal and 4K camera that is integrated into DJI drones called the Zenmuse XT2, which was launched in March 2018.