Detailed by Connecticut FOX affiliate FOXCT, 29-year-old Pedro J. Rivera was seen operating a drone with a mounted camera directly over a fatal car crash scene in Hartford last week. According to police that observed the flying device in action at the scene, the drone was hovering over the crash scene before the surviving crash victims were taken to the hospital. Police interviewed Rivera about the drone, but did not arrest him for anything related to the drone. However, the police report triggered the start of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigation.
Interestingly, Rivera was listed on the police report as a video photographer employed by WFSB, a local Hartford news station. Detailed on CBS affiliate WSBT, the general manager for the station that employs Rivera released a statement which read “The person identified in the police report is a temporary, on-call employee of WFSB. However, he was not working for the station on the day of the incident. He was not assigned to shoot video of the crime scene by WFSB and has never been compensated for any drone video.”
However, the police report indicated that Rivera claimed to feed the video back to WFSB. If this is true, it’s not hard to see why the FAA is involved. According to the FAA, the agency currently does not allow commercial operations, such as video photography, when using an unmanned drone. However, this is a statement that’s been released by the FAA, not a specific regulation.
Drone use by private citizens or commercial use is still a relatively new practice and the FAA has only recently authorized the testing of commercial drones. It’s likely that any regulations overseeing the use of drones will take a significant amount of time to compile by the government agency. According to the FAA, the target date for commercial use of drones is expected by the end of 2015.