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Media organizations and Virginia Tech launch drone-testing program

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A group of 15 media organizations wants to study how drones can be used safely in news gathering.

The coalition is partners in a study with Virginia Tech, one of the Federal Aviation Administration-designated test sites for research on unmanned aircraft systems.

The project will include controlled flight tests on real-life scenarios that simulate news events.  The research testing began Tuesday at a facility in Bealeton. Testing will include a variety of locations, including both urban and rural environments.

“This program will allow us to use these new tools safely and efficiently while also benefiting from the many new angles of visual newsgathering,” Sandy MacIntyre, an Associated Press vice president, said in a statement.

The 15 companies involved in the research include: American Broadcasting Cos Inc., Advance  Publications Inc., A. H. Belo Corp., The Associated Press, Capitol Broadcasting Co., The E.W. Scripps Co., Fusion, Gannett Co. Inc., Getty Images Inc., NBCUniversal, The New York Times Co., Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. Thomson Reuters LLC, Univision and The Washington Post. 

The coalition has worked with law firm Holland & Knight LLP since mid-2014 to consult with Virginia Tech and the FAA.

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