Live Blog: Bill Allen on drones and drone regulation

by Emerald O'Brien

And we're off! Well, not literally – yet. Bill Allen is starting his presentation on drone regulations and journalism, and he will fly a drone in front of our very eyes in the next hour.

Phantom 1 – the drone model that Bill Allen is showing us tonight – is just like the one that crashed on the White House Lawn earlier this year, minus the pilot.

Rick Shaw, Allen's co-professor for the drone class, will be leading a Drone Photojournalism Workshop on Saturday, April 9, at 10 am in Smith Forum at RJI.

Some drones allow you to attach your smartphone or other screen to the controller to be able to drive while looking through the camera on the drone. This is called first person view.

People used to attached cameras to pigeons which may as well have been the first drones. The 1900s were weird.

"Then there's this idiot," Bill Allen said. Some guy crashed his drone into a person at a University of Alabama football game in 2014. He got caught because of pictures that were on the drone camera. :|

Mizzou's drone program received a cease and desist letter in July of 2013 from the FAA. We assume it didn't come by drone.

On the legislation side, Allen says he doesn't see things changing for residential/urban areas - things like house fires or crowds on the quad. Basically if it is in the city, there will be privacy issues. CNN had special permission when they covered the Selma march.

Allen said he doesn't actually see drones as the ultimate future of journalism, but an interesting tool to be used.

Drones used for farming are more likely to be programmed to check on individual animals, and basically fly on autopilot. Journalism drones are more likely to be controlled by a pilot on the ground.

How is it different if a drone hobbyist captures something newsworthy than if the same person captured the same event from on the ground with their cell phone? Allen says it's not, but the FAA still won't allow it.

"It's a emotional issue loaded with fear and cultural baggage," Allen said.


Look at this drone. It looks like bowling pins. 

"OMG IT'S ACTUALLY FLYING." – The Wright Brothers, probably.

Don't worry, we got plenty of pictures.

The glowing red light is how it reads your thoughts. [Reporter's note: I just want to make it clear that drones can't read thoughts. This is a journalism organization after all.]

Rick Shaw said at the free workshop on April 9th, you can actually fly a drone out at the Trowbridge Barn. So probably go to that. 

Thanks for joining us! 

To watch the entire event, check out our video on YouTube. 

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