When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in August 2017, readers of USA Today’s website were able to watch dramatic aerial video footage of the city of Houston flooding, a nearby chemical plant immersed under water and other startling views of the disaster.
But the eye-catching clips weren’t shot by a cameraman perched in a helicopter, as they might have been in the past. Instead, they were captured by robotic drones equipped with cameras and piloted by operators on the ground.
Ever since the Federal Aviation Administration issued new regulations in 2016 making it easier for news organizations to use the flying robots, drones have become a hot new news-gathering tool. Prior to the change, a drone had to be piloted by someone trained and licensed for manned aircraft, requiring hours of cockpit experience. The new rules only require an operator to study and pass a test to be certified for drones.
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The updated rules “resolved a lot of uncertainty about TV station use of drones,” Henry H. Perritt, Jr., a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law and co-author of the 2016 book “Domesticating Drones: The Technology, Economics, and Law of Unmanned Aircraft,” says in an email.
In fact, some journalism training programs are making big investments in a drone future. Matt Waite is a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who heads the school’s Drone Journalism Lab. He’s trained 390 journalists across the nation in the past year on how to use drones, and he says that probably about half of them have gone on to obtain FAA certification. He estimates that somewhere between “dozens to low hundreds” of U.S. news outlets — not just TV stations, but newspapers and radio stations, too — now use unmanned aircraft in newsgathering. Continue reading about the future of drones.
Source: How Stuff Works