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FAA teams up with CNN to explore future role of UAVs in journalism

The US Federal Aviation Administration has teamed up with news network CNN to explore the integration of sophisticated unmanned air vehicles into newsgathering.

The pair signed a co-operative research and development agreement, through which CNN will utilise some of its experience from an existing research partnership with Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), the news agency says.

The FAA will use data collected from the CNN-GTRI initiative to formulate a framework for various types of UAVs so they can be safely integrated into newsgathering activities, a CNN announcement states.

The network hopes to go “beyond hobby-grade equipment”, so that in the future news agencies will be able to use UAVs capable of producing high-quality video for the purposes of journalism, incorporating a variety of UAV and payload types.

“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,” says CNN senior vice-president David Vigilante.

“Unmanned aircraft offer news organisations significant opportunities,” adds FAA administrator Michael Huerta. “We hope this agreement with CNN and the work we are doing with other news organisations and associations will help safely integrate unmanned newsgathering technology and operating procedures into the national airspace system.”

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Meanwhile, the FAA has called on law enforcement agencies in the USA to aid the administration with identifying users of small UAVs who fail to follow aviation rules.

The administration released guidelines to law enforcement personnel explaining aviation laws regarding the use of UAVs, including how model aircraft can be used legally and how action should be taken against those who misuse their equipment.

“State and local police are often in the best position to immediately investigate unauthorised [UAV] operations and, as appropriate, to stop them,” the FAA says.

The document discusses the law enforcement community’s role in deterring, detecting and investigating unsafe operations, the FAA adds.

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