Looks like Back to the Future II was right again, drones may soon be used for news-gathering.
CNN has announced that in a first program of its kind, the news giant is working with the FAA to advance its efforts in launching camera-equipped drones for journalism and reporting purposes.
Since last year, the cable news network has been studying the use of drones for news-gathering by teaming up with researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who has played an integral role in collecting data. The FAA said it will analyze that information to develop rules and acceptable regulations around these unmanned aerial vehicles.
“Our aim is to get beyond hobby-grade equipment and to establish what options are available and workable to produce high quality video journalism,” urged David Vigilante, CNN’s Senior Vice President of Legal.
While earlier efforts have been in the works, CNN’s new announcement signifies that the media company has made substantial progress and that the FAA will seek to accelerate the work required to commercialize the technology.
Most recently, FAA had allocated a couple of largely uninhabited regions across the U.S. to test the commercial use of drones. At the moment, the federal agency only allows certain lightweight drones for flights of up to 400 feet. However, as CNN reports, the FAA is expected to downgrade a few of the laws this year, as drone tech is becoming more ubiquitous — which was clearly evident at CES 2015.
Aside from journalism, drones offer a number of advantageous real-world applications, ranging from disaster relief and farming to filmmaking and real estate. Several other companies are also making significant investments in UAVs as well, including Facebook, Amazon and Google, which will surely help spur the movement.
“Unmanned aircraft offer news organizations significant opportunities. We hope this agreement with CNN and the work we are doing with other news organizations and associations will help safely integrate unmanned news gathering technology and operating procedures into the National Airspace System,” explained FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.