CNN has become the first news organization in the United States approved to use UAVs for reporting after the FAA granted the cable news network a special flight exemption.
CNN is partnering with the Georgia Tech Research Institute to test camera-equipped drones for newsgathering and reporting. The FAA will analyze data from the tests to help the agency develop rules for using commercial UAVs.
"Our aim is to get beyond hobby-grade equipment and to establish what options are available and workable to produce high-quality video journalism," said David Vigilante, CNN's senior vice president of legal, according to the network's website.
The FAA restricts drone use in the United States to hobbyists and for commercial and police use only with special authorizations. The agency is working to craft regulations that would enable broader use of UAVs for a wide range of activities from pipeline patrol to videography to search and rescue.
News organizations see UAVs as potentially offering new ways of reporting stories as they unfold. The use of drones for electronic newsgathering, however, must not interfere with law enforcement or put people in danger, the FAA says.
"Unmanned aircraft offer news organizations significant opportunities," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in a statement. "We hope this agreement with CNN and the work we are doing with other news organizations and associations will help safely integrate unmanned news gathering technology and operating procedures into the National Airspace System."