Missouri looks to revive journalism drones

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The University of Missouri journalism school has modified its classroom use of aerial drones as a legal challenge to the FAA ban on commercial use of the flying robots unfolds.

The School of Journalism grounded its outdoor use of news-gathering drones after receiving a cease and desist letter from the Federal Aviation Administration last summer.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that a judge in early March ruled that the federal agency lacks the authority to enforce such a ban. The FAA has appealed that ruling to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Mizzou students in the one-credit drone journalism class fly the devices indoors while the ban on outdoor use remains. The FAA has said it expects to issue revised rules on commercial drone use by next year.

The head of the FAA predicts at least 7,500 drones will be maneuvering through the skies in the next five years, CBS News' Bigad Shaban reported.

We may see these unmanned aircraft performing search and rescue operations, delivering emergency supplies, and even dropping off packages. They'll bring us birds-eye views of our favorite sporting events. Classified versions are already used in military strikes.

"The potential growth is pretty much infinite," Mike Richards, the president and CEO of Drone America, told CBS News earlier this year. "People need to think of these machines as a tool." Richards is an engineer turned entrepreneur. His company is already designing the next generation of drones.

Comments