WASHINGTON, DC – A drone originally developed for military use could soon be used by television stations and journalists as a news-gathering device.
The Schiebel Corporation’s Camcopter, which is used by the United Arab Emirates Army and the Germany Navy, could soon be used for broadcasting purposes, according to TV News Check.
“To me, the potential for using drones is just like the potential for using any other type of news-gathering equipment, whether it would be for helicopters or mobile news vans or hidden camera equipment,” Mike Cavender, executive director for the Radio Television Digital News Association, told TV News Check. “All those are tools of the trade and the drone to me is no different.”
According to Airforce-Technology, the Campcopter has electro-optical sensors which can “capture images, real-time data and videos” which can be operated from a control station on the ground or can be programed.
The drone can reach speeds of 240 kilometers an hour and go as high as 18,000 feet. Its “Vertical Takeoff and Landing” system eliminates the need for runways or launch systems.
Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, believes drones should be used in the news gathering process, but organizations will most likely face lawsuits in the process.
“We will likely have new cases involving civil lawsuits by those who assert that the media has unlawfully intruded upon their privacy rights by recording, publishing or broadcasting images captured by drones,” Osterreicher told the Harvard Law & Policy Review. “This will also have the usual ‘right to be left alone’ causes of action with the concomitant false light and public figure implications, as well as intrusion of solitude or public disclosure of private facts and appropriation.”
Osterreicher added that the demand for drone use among news organizations will quickly grow.
“Reports of drone use by news organizations,Google, sports teams and scientists are on the rise – the technological capabilities are clearly here, and will only become more accessible over time,” he explained to the Harvard Law & Policy Review. “There are also economical considerations, here: Skyrocketing fuel costs along with increased insurance rates make flying a helicopter or blimp unfeasible. When news organizations are laying off staff having a pilot or pilots on the payroll is now an unaffordable luxury, especially when compared to the cost effectiveness of a drone.”
Not everyone is on board with news stations using drones, though.
“Unlike airliners and helicopters, drones are actually designed to conduct surveillance,” Amie Stepanovich, legal counsel for Electronic Privacy Information Center, told TV News Check. “They are designed to have very invasive equipment to watch people’s movements.”
Schiebel says on its website that the Campcopter, which is priced at $400,000, can also be used for search and rescue missions, border control and event security.