Everybody knows what a drone is. They’re those controversial aircraft that don’t have a pilot on-board. Of course they aren’t just aircraft, there are also land based drones, and sea based drones, and undersea drones, and even space drones. Drone pilots can getcombat medals. And the @Drones Twitter account has more than 11,000 followers. The point is, everybody calls these things drones except for the people who make and operate them.
But that might be changing, at least according to this report. It turns out that the head of AUVSI, the largest advocacy group for drones had this to say at the Avalon International Air Show, “I’m going to roll over on this one, and call them drones from now on. There are just some fights you are not going to win.”
It’s about time. The long running debate is a silly one premised on the belief that there aren’t legitimate issues to be publicly debated. It also assumes that the public is too stupid to understand the technology being discussed. I’m on record opposing the use of fear tactics by drone opponents, but the term drone simply isn’t part of that fear campaign. It’s the colloquial term that the public understands and it’s about time industry starts using it.
I’ve gone to multiple conferences, industry trade shows and other events where industry advocates and the developers of drones are convinced that the public debate about drone use will die down if we’d just call them “unmanned aerial vehicles” or “remotely piloted aircraft.” It’s a belief that isn’t grounded in any data or market research, and it strikes me as lazy logic from people who don’t want to engage in a legitimate debate about how their systems might be used. The systems are very defensible, so I’m glad that some in the industry are falling into line with the rest of the English speaking world and are beginning to use the term everyone else uses for this technology.
Granted, the term drone is an umbrella term encompassing a range of systems, and the name change doesn’t end the debate, but it at least ends the terminology fight. From my perspective, drones are great, and they have the potential to revolutionize dozens of industries. I’m even convinced that in some instances they can be more protective of privacy than manned systems. So let’s move on and have that discussion, and stop having the drones versus UAVs versus RPA debate.
Long live the drone!
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