The FAA has been putting out rules to control drone flight in the United States for several years now. One rule dictates that drones should not be flown at night unless a waiver is obtained from the FAA. The FAA also has strict regulations about where drones can be flown, and up until recently, the FAA had never issued wavers to anyone allowing them to fly drones over people who were not previously made aware. CNN was the first to obtain a waver to fly drones over people who were not part of their operations.
CNN ensured the safety of unaware civilians by using Snap, a drone made by Vantage Robotics, a relatively unknown start-up company from San Francisco. Snap is a small drone, weighing only 1.4 lbs, and is very fragile. Its body is held together entirely with small magnets, meaning that it is easily collapsible on impact with an object and very unlikely to cause damage or hurt people.
Along with being easily collapsible, Snap also has shrouds around its blades that have been specially designed to make it safer. Many indoor drones already have shrouds around their blades, but the Snap has shrouds that use tensegrity; this makes the shrouds extremely light, as they are held together with only tension or compression. NASA uses tensegrity in their technology as well, particularly with robots.
These along with several other technological innovations allows the Snap to be one of the safest drones out there, making it an excellent choice for CNN’s purposes. Whether they choose to fly the drone to capture footage of sports events or protests, their dedication to safety is apparent.