10 October 2014

What's another word for "drone" ?

The Wall Street Journal reports that some manufacturers of drones are uncomfortable using that word for marketing purposes and are seeking alternative terminology.
As the drone industry takes off, many people in it say it needs a different name. They say “drone” suggests the devices are dumb, it is technically inaccurate and now has a militaristic reputation. Unmanned-aircraft advocates scold reporters and even congressmen who use the term. But they have another problem: Few of them agree on what the devices should be called...

The alternatives are an alphabet soup. There is “UAV” (unmanned aerial vehicle), “RPA” (remotely piloted aircraft), and “UAS” (unmanned aircraft system). Some prefer the more digestible “unmanned aircraft,” or just “robot,” while European Union officials opt for the bulkier “RPAS,” or remotely piloted aircraft systems... the [FAA] and Congress have settled on a name: they use UAS in legislation and official documents...

But it isn’t hard to find advocates who drone on about why they don’t like the term UAS and its “unmanned” cousins. “I hate the word unmanned,” said Don Wirthlin, a drone-pilot instructor in Douglas, Ariz. “Last time I checked, I was a human flying a UAV.”...

Popular Science writer Kelsey Atherton, who writes weekly roundups of unmanned-aircraft news called “Keeping up with the droneses,” said opponents of the term should give up. “The battle is over and drone won,” he said.


  1. Remote, Semi-Autonomous, or Robot(ic) Device

  2. Video games conditioned me to call them UAVs as early as 2002, but the recent media exposure has given my language arbitrary nuance. I tend to call them UAVs if they are for recon-type purposes, but just about anything else I call a drone now.

  3. It's a good thing that Congress has already finished making all the important decisions, giving them the time to make this one.

  4. A number of years ago, i was working on a project that involved developing path planning algorithms for UAVs. I used the term "Unmanned Aerial Vehicle", but was corrected by the Chief Scientist on the project (who was also in the National Guard), that they should be called "Unpiloted Aerial Vehicles", because "women don't fly them too." That seemed like good logic to me.


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