Media Companies, Virginia Tech to Test Newsgathering UAS


Ten news media companies are partnering with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University to test small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at the Virginia UAS test site.

The partnership between the news media coalition and Virginia Tech is designed to conduct controlled safety testing of a series of real-life scenarios where the news media could use small UAS technology in journalism.

The coalition participating in the testing comprises the following companies: Advance Publications Inc.; A.H. Belo Corp.; The Associated Press; Gannett Co. Inc.; Getty Images (US) Inc.; NBCUniversal; The New York Times Co.; The E.W. Scripps Co.; Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.; and The Washington Post.

‘The AP is excited to join with these other leading media companies in exploring the safe and responsible use of drone technology for newsgathering purposes that further our understanding of current events,’ says Santiago Lyon, the AP’s director of photography.

CNN recently teamed up with the FAA to start conducting similar research.

Rose Mooney, executive director of the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, headquartered at the university's Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Science, says, ‘Virginia Tech sees this collaboration as a key to groundbreaking research to use UAS for the news and broadcasting industry on a routine basis.

“UAS can provide this industry a safe, efficient, timely and affordable way to gather and disseminate information and keep journalists out of harm's way. We are excited to be partnered with the consortium and the FAA to further UAS integration into the National Airspace System,” she adds.

The coalition has been working since mid-2014 through law firm Holland & Knight LLP to develop the testing protocols with Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech leads the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, one of the six UAS test sites in the U.S.

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