CNN to Work With FAA on Drone Research

CNN has announced that it has signed a cooperative research and development agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration in the area of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones.

CNN announced last year that it had set up a research partnership with the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI).

As a result of that effort, CNN, GTRI and the FAA are already working together on the use of UAVs in newsgathering and how they might be integrated into existing airspace.

CNN noted that the FAA will use data collected from this initiative to formulate a framework for various types of UAVs to be safely integrated into newsgathering operations.

A number of news organizations have expressed interest in using drones for newsgathering, which is currently illegal under FAA regulations, which prohibit commercial use of UAVs. The FAA has however issued permits to some Hollywood producers for their use in making films on closed sets.

The FAA is currently at work on establishing regulations for commercial use. Last week at CES, the Consumer Electronics Association estimated that sales of drones could grow into a $1 billion business by 2018.

"Our aim is to get beyond hobby-grade equipment and to establish what options are available and workable to produce high quality video journalism using various types of UAVs and camera setups,” said CNN senior VP David Vigilante in a statement. “Our hope is that these efforts contribute to the development of a vibrant ecosystem where operators of various types and sizes can safely operate in the US airspace.”

In another statement announcing the collaboration, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta noted that “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 newsgathering technology and operating procedures into the National Airspace System.”