FLIR Systems is using its recent acquisitions of companies in the unmanned space to develop a range of new concepts, including the deployment of nano unmanned aerial systems (UASs) from larger platforms, the company has told Jane's .
The sensor specialist acquired Prox Dynamics - manufacturer of the Black Hornet nano-UAS - in November 2016. It has expanded its acquisitions this year, acquiring UAS manufacturer Aeryon Labs and unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) provider Endeavor Robotics.
The company is using the synergies between these companies - and its own areas of expertise - to pursue various new technologies and concepts, said David Ray, president of FLIR Systems' Government & Defense unit. For example, it is exploring the potential of deploying Black Hornet nano-UASs from Aeryon's SkyRanger UAS, as well as from UGVs produced by Endeavor.
Additionally, FLIR is developing a common control and communications architecture to enable its various unmanned platforms to more easily interact with each other, Ray said, "so no matter where information is coming from, it can be delivered via a common operational picture".
This will also be made available to FLIR customers who operate other unmanned assets, Ray added. It could have potential in manned/unmanned teaming, where the costs of such technology can be high, he said.
Aeryon and Endeavor were already FLIR customers before the acquisitions, using the company's cameras and other systems. These existing relationships meant the companies already had a good idea of various areas for collaboration and innovation, he noted.
Ray said FLIR is also looking to leverage the work of its industrial arm in autonomous driving into military UGVs. This is particularly relevant when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), he said, with the company keen to exploit the software and analytics capabilities it is developing for self-driving cars "back into military applications through our UGVs and the command and control systems we use to drive them".
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