Tech firms vying to sell drones, robots and other unmanned systems to the military

In March, an Oregon-based thermal imaging company, FLIR Systems, opened a new East Coast headquarters less than a mile from the Pentagon, which it hopes will serve as the core of a defense business focused on unmanned systems. And on May 7, a pair of California-based technology companies, AeroVironment and Kratos Defense Security Solutions, announced they will team up to develop a system of small, unmanned drones that can be launched and controlled from a larger drone.

Jim Cannon, president and chief executive of FLIR, described the new Northern Virginia office as the culmination of a long-planned evolution beyond the company’s roots in thermal imaging and sensing. His company now wants to refocus its efforts on the military technology market.

It is acquiring the ownership rights to robotic and unmanned systems that the U.S. military is already buying in the thousands, and trying to forge new contacts with Pentagon leadership as

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