CNN Just Got Approved To Fly Drones Over Crowds Of People

CNN has secured the first ever Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) waiver to operate drones over a crowd of people. This is a huge step forward in the way media organizations would use drones in the near future. Whenever CNN wants to capture footage of a large crowd of people, a drone could be used. Before now, CNN has enjoyed waivers from the FAA allowing it to operate drones inside closed enclosures and unpopulated areas. This new waiver allowing the news organization to operate drones over a crowd of people is a huge step forward for the company and media organizations in general.

Presently, every news organization that intends to use news gathering drones must seek and obtain approval. Each request for such permission would be treated by the FAA on a case by case basis. The new waiver granted to CNN allows the news organization to fly drones at 150 feet above ground. The waiver would greatly improve CNN’s news gathering capabilities. This would enable CNN to use drones at public events. However, the waiver only allows CNN to use Snap Drones. Snap Drones are specially made drones, manufactured by Vantage Robotics. The drone is specifically designed to be operated over a crowd of people. The drone is equipped with special safeguards which ensures that people are not harmed if it falls out of the sky due to a technical fault.

FAA chose CNN in 2015 to participate in a research program aimed at using drones for news gathering in urban settings. In 2016, CNN was granted a waiver to operate drones over people provided that the drone is tethered to a pilot. The latest waiver is a result of two years of research and trials by CNN and Vantage. Several precautions are being taken by CNN and Vantage to ensure that people are not harmed as a result of the operation of news gathering drones. One of the precautions in place is that the drone automatically returns to the location where it was launched whenever there is a problem. The system also has multiple warning signals whenever the battery is low.

Easier approval for flying drones over people is a major step toward the use of commercial drones in cities. If this trend were to continue, more companies would be granted similar waivers in the future which could open the door for drone deliveries.

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