Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Game of drones

In recent years, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) — often called drones — have exponentially grown in popularity.

Till as recently as three to four years ago, searching for drones on the Internet predominantly resulted in images of weaponised, unmanned military aircraft. But with the rise in recreational use, more people are choosing to document their holidays and weddings from up top. With the multi-billion dollar industry projected to grow in the future, the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s announcement late last month permitting the use of commercial drones (albeit with several restrictions) was a welcome shift in policy.

Keen to use it in my journalistic work, I bought my first drone (a Parrot Bebop) in 2016. The first time I flew it, I was terrified it would crash into a tree. I have since become a more adept operator, and for the past two years, I have worked with the Sri Lankan Civil Aviation Authority to promote the use of the device in journalism. We have captured many hours of footage to better illustrate key stories on topics such as the environment, wildlife, urban development and large-scale infrastructure. Our work proved that an aerial perspective adds to ground truths, offering a new way way of seeing and framing them.
11/09/18 Sanjana Hattotuwa/The Hindu