Makers of drones love everything about their UFOs (unmanned flying objects). Everything, that is, but the drone names.
Thanks to recent conflicts in the Middle East and popular TV shows like 24, the world often thinks first of drones as the remotely piloted aircraft that quietly conduct military missions.
However, the business application for UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) has expanded greatly beyond military use, and industry reps are pushing hard to replace the name “drone” with something else.
Ben Gielow works for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. He says the manufacturers of tomorrow’s hottest tech doesn’t want to be associated with missile strikes.
“When folks hear the word drone they usually think of large, military, weaponized systems,” says Gielow. “That’s not what the commercial use of these things will look like.”
Additionally drone used be associated with “dumb” objects that were used for target practice. That doesn’t exactly conjure up the smart, progressive applications that drones offer today.
Unmanned aerial systems today are controlled and monitored by humans, and their computerized systems can be so technologically advanced that it appears yesterday’s science fiction is today’s reality.
It might take some time for the word drone to disappear completely (even manufacturers of non-military drones are hesitant to lose a term that the public understands and might ultimately buy) but the industry has taken some steps forward with three possible replacements.
Today’s drones are such advanced technology that they can be used by farmers to obtain an assessment of their crops, by vacation rental owners to get an aerial photo of their Seattle Airbnb property to improve a listing, or by firefighters engaged in a battle against a blaze.
Three Alternative Names for Drones
Unmanned Aerial System (UAS)
Take an aircraft, add a radio connection or maybe a network and a human to control it using a remote. This is probably the phrase that is most commonly used by industry groups.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
This term became commonplace thanks to the Department of Defense who offers this drone definition as “powered aerial vehicles sustained in flight by aerodynamic lift over most of their flight path and guided without an onboard crew…and can fly autonomously or piloted remotely.”
This definition seems to be on the way out for non-military use.
Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) or Vehicle (RPV)
Military drones Predator or Global Hawk are often referred to as RPA. Typically used to be replacement vehicles to carry out search and rescue missions or missile strikes, without the human pilot present.
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