CNN and Georgia Tech are exploring ways to use drones in journalism

Could Anderson Cooper’s new coworkers be flying robots?

It’s not a bird or a plane or a man in cape or even a UFO.

It’s a drone.

And if it’s not part of the drone warfare being report-ed by CNN, it very well may be the new CNN report-er. The cable news network has decided to partner with the Georgia Institute of Technology to further investigate the viability of media organizations employing their own fleets.

The drones (technically titled unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs) would be deployed to gather media coverage for the network. Drones have been pegged as a new technology capable of documenting developments in natural disasters and traffic, as well as gathering footage of sports events and movies (Star Wars X to be filmed by R2-D2 and C-3PO?). The research by CNN and Tech is intended to identify the access and safety issues of UAVs as a media tool. The university—which has a host of unmanned flight systems research initiatives underway—and CNN will share the findings with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

Currently, the FAA’s proposed regulations for media coverage would require obtaining a permit two or three months before flying a UAV for drone journalism, which wouldn’t aid in providing breaking news coverage. The research venture by CNN and Georgia Tech—which should start later this summer—should accelerate the process. Official revisions to the current rules are scheduled for release in September 2015.