- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 25, 2014

CNN has kicked off a research project with the Georgia Institute of Technology to discern how the media organization might go about using drones to gather information for journalism reports.

Part of the research will focus on analyzing what the technological needs are to launch such an endeavor, as well as what the safety and manpower issues are, Breitbart reported. The overall aim is to come up with a report that can be shared with the Federal Aviation Administration which, in turn, could plot a path for media use of drones.

“Our hope is that by working cooperatively to share knowledge, we can accelerate the process for CNN and other media organizations to safely integrate this new technology into their coverage plans,” said David Vigilante, CNN’s senior vice president, Breitbart reported.

One of the researchers at Georgia Tech — Mike Heiges — said drones “have a number of applications that benefit society, such as search and rescue, disaster response and agricultural mapping and crop assessment,” Breitbart reported. He also added that “we’re excited to be engaging with CNN to study the news gathering applications” for unmanned aircraft.

The FAA only rarely grants exceptions for government and law enforcement to use drones, and so far, commercial entities are outright banned from using them.

Congress, however, did task the FAA to come up with a plan for commercial use of drones by 2015. As Breitbart noted, 16 different news organizations banded together and accused the FAA of violating constitutional freedom of the press rights by restricting media groups’ use of drones for news gathering endeavors.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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