The Worth of a UAS-Captured Image

By Luke Geiver | September 17, 2015

Data, we often hear in conversations about unmanned aircraft systems in the civilian commercial markets, is cited as the best and most promising reason to send unmanned aircraft vehicles into the air. Multispectral cameras or air sensors can yield incredible information valued by field representatives and boardroom executives alike. But, our Q3 issue reminds us that sometimes the simple services available today through UAVs are reason enough to fly and push through the daunting and tiresome list of rules and regulations.

After interviewing a trio of CNN representatives spearheading an unprecedented effort to bring drones into the world of news gathering, an effort that is also illuminating for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration the challenges and protocols of operating above people, it became clear that maybe the simple shots captured through aerial photography are just as powerful as a near infrared image  overlayed with GPS coordinates, air properties and topography marks. 

Greg Agvent, senior director of news operations for CNN, hinted at such a possibility. After explaining his team’s early days using drones for production pieces and disaster-related image capture—specifically the aftermath of a Nepal earthquake—Agvent was quick and decisive in his description of the drone photos and videos. “The footage we shot in the aftermath of Nepal was transfixing,” he said. “It didn’t leave you.”

Roughly nine months after that footage was recorded, Agvent is now part of a CNN trio that is not only speeding up the FAA’s research efforts and understanding of the protocols necessary for above-people UAV flights, but also showing us one image or video at a time, what the power of UAV-captured footage looks like. In the future, when we see field reporters sporting tethered drones or breaking news events covered by a fixed-wing, we will have the CNN team to thank. As David Vigilante told us for our “CNN’s Pathfinder UAS Mission” story, “If CNN wins, everybody wins.”

In Patrick Miller’s feature, “Seeing Beyond Long-Range UAS Potential,” we get a glimpse into aother element of UAV use that everyone we speak with believes is an undeniable benefit: beyond visual line of sight operations (BVLOS). Miller’s piece combines technical information with basic perspective from researchers, BVLOS users and a major manufacturer that has already mastered the practice in military-based missions outside the U.S. Although the topic was an easy one to pursue, the complexities of the issue are very real. Most in the story believe BVLOS operations will require robust equipment and protocols that have been well tested and vetted. Thankfully, every source in the piece seemed to arrive at a similar sentiment as David Phillips did in his closing quote. “I think we’ll be ready when they [FAA] sort all that out.”

Thank you for reading another issue of a magazine we are told is just plain cool. If cool means a pub working hard to present the telling and compelling stories that reveal the state of our UAS industry, then we’ll take it. For daily news and an overdose of original content, check us out on the web. And, for future feature pieces like the ones here on CNN’s efforts or BVLOS perspectives, find us again in Q4.

Luke Geiver
Editor, UAS Magazine