> our title:

A Weighty Question: What to Call UAVs

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Unmanned-Aircraft Industry Divided Over New Name for Drones: Reports

(Source: RIA Novosti; published Oct 09, 2014)


MOSCOW --- The unmanned aircraft industry rejects the term "drone" claiming it is technically inaccurate, however companies are divided on a new name for the devices, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

"We need another name for it, but I'm not sure what that new name should be," venture-capital executive Zack Porter was quoted as saying by WSJ.

According to the newspaper, unmanned-aircraft developers believe the term "drone" gives the devices a poor militaristic reputation. Alternative names include UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), UAS (unmanned aircraft system), RPA (remotely piloted aircraft), RPAS (unmanned aircraft system), or simply, robot. One patent attorney, John Mulcahy, has suggested the term "crone" for commercial drones.

Michael Toscano, chief executive for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International said the term drone makes most people think "weaponized, hostile, large and autonomous," and prefers the name UAS since it encompasses the entire system, including "the technology on the ground with the human at the controls," according to The Wall Street Journal.

However, the former general counsel of the unmanned aircraft trade group, Ben Gielow rejected any name using the misleading term "unmanned" and stated, "We have to stop defining the technology by what it's not. They used to call the car a horseless carriage," the newspaper reported.

Some companies have settled on names for their devices, like Wasp, TigerShark, Predator and Reaper, while others have created names based on how many propellers they have. The US military is also divided on the matter with the Navy using UAV, the Coast Guard calling them UAS, and the Air Force calling them RPA. The Federal Aviation Administration and Congress have agreed upon the name of UAS for the devices in legislation and official documents.

There are others in the industry that are not opposed to the word, claiming more people are familiar with the term "drone" than any other name. According to data from Google Trends, searches for "drone" exceed any alternative names and has remained the most popular name for the devices since 2010.

The name "drone" was first coined in 1935 by the British Royal Navy who began using unmanned aircraft as aerial targets for shooting practice following developments in the United States. The United Kingdom named its device the Queen Bee which led to the Navy calling its targets "drones," the term for male bees. Evidence of the media using the term has been traced to 1946 when Popular Science reported on the devices.

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