A coalition of 10 news media companies has announced that it has partnered with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) for the testing of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to gather news.
The Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership is being lead by Virginia Tech, one of six test sites established by Congress to collect data on the use of UAS. Congress set up the test sites to assist the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in formulating regulations to integrate UAS into the national airspace.
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 to gather the news.
The coalition participating in the testing is comprised of the following media companies: Advance Publications, Inc.; A.H. Belo Corp.; The Associated Press; Gannett Co., Inc.; Getty Images (US), Inc.; NBCUniversal; The New York Times Company; The E.W. Scripps Company; Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.; and The Washington Post.
News coalition members welcome this partnership as an opportunity to help develop procedures to safely incorporate UAS into daily journalism.
“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,” AP Director of Photography Santiago Lyon said.
Rose Mooney, Executive Director of the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, headquartered at the university’s Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Science, said: “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.”
The coalition has been working since mid-2014 through the law firm of Holland & Knight LLP, to develop the testing protocols with Virginia Tech.