Newsgathering Drone Testing Program Officially Begins


1250_media_circle Newsgathering Drone Testing Program Officially BeginsA coalition of 15 news media companies – in partnership with Virginia Tech, one of the bases of the six Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) test sites – has launched research testing of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for newsgathering.

These flight tests are the first of a series of controlled testing of real-life scenarios to simulate news events that the media can safely report on using small UAS technology. The partnership between the coalition and the university was first announced in January of this year. The research tests began today at a facility in Bealeton, Va.

This will be the first time reporters and photographers are at the controls of the aircraft to test newsgathering, according to law firm Holland & Knight LLP, which has worked with the coalition since mid-2014 to consult with the FAA and Virginia Tech and design the testing program.

The news media coalition comprises the following 15 companies: American Broadcasting Co. Inc.; Advance Publications Inc.; A. H. Belo Corp.; The Associated Press; Capitol Broadcasting Co.; The E.W. Scripps Co.; Fusion; Gannett Co. Inc.; Getty Images (US) Inc.; NBCUniversal; The New York Times Co.; Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.; Thomson Reuters (Markets) LLC; Univision; and The Washington Post.

The coalition consulted closely with the National Press Photographers Association in developing realistic testing protocols for these research flights.

“The AP and its media coalition partners are excited to harness this new technology to inform the world,” says Sandy MacIntyre, Associated Press vice president and director of global video. “This program will allow us to use these new tools safely and effectively while also benefiting from the many new angles of visual newsgathering.”

Rose Mooney, executive director of the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, which heads the Virginia Tech test site, adds, “The research testing we are initiating will provide the news media coalition a safe and innovative way to gather and disseminate information and keep journalists out of harm’s way.”

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