AUVSI: "There's nothing unmanned about unmanned systems". Huh?

I'm a loyal AUVSI (Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) member, but this is just sad. In an effort to distance the industry from public perceptions around the word "drone" at a congressional hearing last week, they said this:

“This is more than a pilotless vehicle,” Michael Toscano, president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, said at Leahy’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, convened to consider privacy risks. “There’s nothing unmanned about unmanned systems.’’

First of all, what?? Second, it may be that there are 60+ people in ground support for each Global Hawk in the air, but that's sure not the case for the smaller drones, including the ones we fly. At the moment we still usually keep one "pilot" on the ground (guy just watching and able to take over manual control if needed) for each drone in the air, but that's just a safety measure. These things take off, run their mission and land autonomously. When all goes well, there's no human in the loop at all. 

Either the AUVSI is out of touch with what's really going on with drones, or they're backing themselves into a rhetorical corner that they won't be able to get out of. 

(Photo of CyFly tethered drone from Boston Globe article linked above)

Views: 1716

Comment by Maxime Carrier on April 7, 2013 at 4:46pm

There is a confusion between drone and quadcopter, almost every quadcopter are described as drone when they are not.

Example : AR Drone

Comment by Flying Monkey on April 7, 2013 at 5:31pm

Makes sense to me.  Even a UAV on a fully automous flight IS "manned" by somebody watching and ready to either take over or upload changes to the flight plan.  People have this idea in their head of a "drone" flying all by itself, making decisions for itself, etc... but that's not true... These flights are monitored by humans, which makes them "manned"

Comment by John on April 7, 2013 at 6:57pm
People are hung up on 'Sky Net'
Comment by John on April 7, 2013 at 7:03pm
People see my quad copter and instantly ask...'is that one of them drones' and I say 'no its an rc quad copter'. Funny when I have my conventional heli with flight controller people have a totally different perception and think its a neat 'toy'. For some reason more than two rotors are scary to people.
Comment by Eli Cohen on April 7, 2013 at 7:47pm

Chris, I think they are actually right about this. Commercial UAV ops tend to be incredibly overstaffed for a number of political and other reasons. Its not the way it should be, but it is. And I have to say, I feel uncomfortable flying my personal plane running APM without being able to have a dedicated second set of eyes on my GCS... there are a lot of reliability concerns that are always nagging me that force me to pay VERY careful attention when I fly. 

Comment by HeliStorm on April 7, 2013 at 7:57pm

I have noticed the same thing John. Flying my conventional helicopters finds me being asked HOW I fly them. What controls do what, etc. My quad begs questions related to WHY I fly "that drone." Why do you want to spy on your neighbors, etc.

Comment by zoom on April 7, 2013 at 8:04pm

Rc planes / heli / multirotor are UAV's ( at least thats the way I see It ) and have been around for years They have just evolved like all tech has Auto Pilots arent new either so whats the problem - People seem more worried about the Cameras (big brother) They do not think about if they are autonomous or not.

But the fact is by law in Aust any way the need operator on ground in case it go pear shaped

The name Drone will always be connected to the military it may take year for people to see the difference.

Those the mind do not matter & Those who matter do not mind

Comment by bcrow on April 7, 2013 at 8:07pm

Pretty soon we are all going to be buried under names for each and every system. I am sorry to say, but this amlmost makes the whole group sound "goodfie". UAS, UAV, drone...monitored by a person (PIC), a safety observer, so let us at least get that as a common standard...and stop trying to paint a different picture for whatever political group we (UAS / UAV community) address.




3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on April 7, 2013 at 9:03pm

Eli: yes, but for how much longer? You've seen the rate of progress here; how much longer will there be a human in the loop? (any more than a FAA control tower dispatcher is in the loop of a commercial flight)

Comment by Stephen Rayleigh on April 7, 2013 at 9:15pm

A person commented on my local paper's website saying that our industry is hiding behind the term UAS and demanded that the FAA and everyone else adopt the word Drone. Apparently we're not scary enough for her. "Drone" is popular, but misguided and colloquial. 

Toscano won't be able to change the public's perception of UAS, but he could sway the senate to keep from writing anti-drone legislation. The argument that should follow "there's no manned in unmanned" is about the jobs that will create. 


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