Thermal camera maker Flir is latest major company to bet on drones

MW-DU706_vue_dr_20150921110356_ZHThis is an excerpt of a story originally written for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire story here.

Inspecting solar panels, fighting fires and helping farmers manage crops: these are all jobs that thermal imaging camera producer Flir Systems Inc. envisions could be done by drones — with the help of its new, professional-grade camera.

Oregon-based Flir is set to launch the new camera, called the Vue Pro, in November 2015. Like previous Flir cameras, the Vue Pro measures and records data, but it also allows users to see footage in real-time. And it’s made specifically to fit in the GoPro mount that many drones come equipped with, from the basic $499 DJI Phantom II all the way up to the $100,000+ Aeryon Scout. The Vue Pro will cost $1,999 and ships in November.


Drone operators have been using Flir products for some time, coming up with their own manual mounts: 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.
But in the last 18 months, Flir recognized a shift as more drones targeted at a “prosumer” market and costing upward of $1,000 hit the marketplace.

“Drones have gotten into the hands of a lot more people,” said Flir VP Jeffrey Frank.

Frank says the $1,999 Vue Pro will allow many drone operators, including firefighters who want aerial images to seek out hot spots in burning buildings, or farmers looking to get aerial views of their crops to check for dehydration, to get by with just a basic drone, instead of a $25,000 enterprise drone.

“At the end of the day, the nature of the drone itself really needs to be good enough to get the job done,” he said. “Often something as simple as a DJI Phantom is perfectly adequate.”

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