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Verizon, L.A. Times to Deploy Network-Connected Robotics, Drones for News Ops

(Image credit: Verizon)

LOS ANGELES—In an interesting example of how news organizations are trying to use 5G, drones, data, advanced networking and even robotics to improve the way they operate, Verizon and the Los Angeles Times have announced plans to deploy advanced robotics, drones and other technology from Verizon to expand on the way news is gathered, shared and consumed.

As part of the deal, the companies will use 4G-connected drones, 5G-connected ground robots, 3D modeled data and other technologies to help redefine digital media and add dimensions to news reporting and storytelling. 

Such efforts would allow the L.A. Times to offer more video, which can produce higher ad revenues, but they could also provide a model for local TV stations seeking to improve their news coverage. 

“By combining Verizon’s network, edge computing and intelligent software technologies, with the innovative thinkers at the L.A. Times, we have the potential to transform the future of storytelling,” said Elise Neel, senior vice president of new business incubation at Verizon.

“Verizon is working with partners to innovate in their respective industries and this collaboration is an example of how we are using technology to drive innovation in the industry,” Neel continued. “Through the work we are doing with the L.A. Times, people from all over the world could have an opportunity to feel like they are immersed in the stories of Southern California.”

“At the Los Angeles Times, we’re always looking for ways to get closer to the news, explain what it means and illustrate the vital stories of California,” said Chris Argentieri, president and COO of the L.A. Times. “This collaboration with Verizon will allow us to build on our expertise in video journalism, data visualization and product design to create deeply immersive and immediate extensions of our reporting with their best-in-class technologies.”  

The companies said that the initial focus will be on:

  • Providing a “see what the robot sees” experience through high-definition, near real-time video feeds from the robots both in the air and on the ground.
  • Getting visuals from miles away through the use of drones to capture digital stills from onboard cameras in difficult-to-access areas.
  • Giving context from multiple perspectives through the creation of digital twin models to add visual and location context in near real-time or for after-the-fact recreations.
  • Robotics, in the air and on the ground, paired with data-driven technology running on Verizon’s wireless networks, including 4G LTE and 5G Ultra Wideband, will enable news gathering in hard to reach areas. This near real-time data will help the L.A. Times set new benchmarks in how breaking stories are captured and delivered.

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.