Discussing “The D Word”

BN-EX554_1008do_G_201410081717451-300x200.jpgThat which we call a drone…

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal ran a story called “Why Some Drone Makers Hate the Word ‘Drone.'” It’s a well-written piece that outlines why opponents of the term don’t like it and ends with an appropriate assessment fromPopular Science‘s Kelsey Atherton: “The battle is over and ‘drone’ won.”

Mr. Atherton is right. The battle is over. But, like most battles, it’s part of a larger conflict – getting the general public to understand and accept UAV technology.

As freelance journalist Zach Rosenburg told the Journal, “You try to explain what you do to your families on Thanksgiving…and no one knows what the hell a UAV is.”

I sympathize, Mr. Rosenburg.

So, instead of using Congressional hearings (and Twitter arguments) to debate what term to use, let’s see if we can’t focus that energy to address the real issue: educating the public.

…By any other name…

One of the best attitudes toward the issue of “the D word” I have ever heard came from a conversation I had with Paola Santana, co-founder of Matternet:

“The drone PR problem has to do with the use of drones, not the name of the thing. As soon as you change what you’re using them for, perception changes. That change doesn’t happen just by changing the name. A knife is a knife, right? You can use a knife to cut an apple or you can use it to kill someone. But the word is ‘knife.’ It’s a weapon but people use it in their kitchens every day.”

In the next few weeks, children all over the country will be using knives to saw grotesque patterns into the flesh of dying organisms to create symbols of reverence for souls stuck in limbo in preparation for a pagan holiday.

Or, you know, kids are carving pumpkins because it’s almost Halloween.

Perception is everything.

Any negative connotation of the word ‘drone’ has been artificially constructed by people who were searching for a term to describe a technology that was not fully understood (more on this in a bit).

As the commercial drone industry grows and the understanding of the technology becomes clearer, it comes down to the players in the space to change public perception by demonstrating all the practical applications drones have.

For example, Matternet is trying to change the perception of the word drone by using them to deliver medicine to remote villages in third world countries.

…Would fly so straight.

What a drone truly is, is a tool built to complete a specific job that requires no human interaction.

The concept of autonomy is the crux of this entire technology.

Matternet, Amazon and Google are designing drones to be flown by humans.

Like the self-driving car, these drones of tomorrow are meant to take humans (and, by extension, human error) out of the equation.

Continue reading at dronelife.com...

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