The drone industry doesn't like the word "drone," and wants the media to stop using it to describe "unmanned aircraft" because of the negative connotation oit now carries.
The message was made clear to media representatives covering the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International convention in Washington, D.C., this week. The press room's Wi-Fi password? "DONTSAYDRONES."
So what's acceptable nowadays to the trade group when reporting on drones? That would be "unmanned aerial systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, remotely piloted aircraft," or the European term, "remotely piloted aircraft systems."
"The average person on the street, and even intelligent and informed people, when they think of the word 'drone,' they think of the military, they think hostile, they think weaponized, they think large, and they think autonomous," association president Michael Toscano told Breaking Defense.
Toscano said the negative meaning of the word drone is both inaccurate and damaging for a growing industry that makes a variety of products in a range of sizes for a range of uses.
Some are as big as a commercial jet and some are small enough to fit in the palm of one's hand. And, he said, their innocuous, peaceful uses greatly outnumber their wartime or combat uses.
Toscano said the industry is bothered by the fact that 80 percent of people would pick "the picture of a Predator," or the General Atomics MQ-1 used to hunt down and strike al-Qaida-affiliated or other terrorist if asked to choose.
"That's what's wrong," he told Breaking Defense, adding that the term "drone strike" incorrectly describes what the Predator does. The phrase "air strike" will do, he says.
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