Hi everyone, 

Although it is less of an issue for the DIY/hobby end of things (we all seem able to use the word 'drone' without thinking of hellfire missiles), but I've been getting pretty tired of the argument in wider circles and dancing around trying not to use the 'D-word' when dealing with the media.

So... I wanted to write my thoughts down in one place so I can refer back to them whenever this comes up, and I thought I'd share it here in case you guys find yourself repeatedly having the same debate too:


Keen to hear if you agree or disagree!

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  • I'm with Guy.  Technical docs I use UAS (because the FAA does) and drones in casual reference. 

  • I've decided that I will henceforth refer to all drones as "Ralph."

  • This is going to devolve into a pissing contest between commercial entities invested in one word or another with occasional squeaks from a pilot being chased down the beach by an angry mob with torches and pitchforks. The conversation has  entertainment value only, we've crossed into "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" territory.

  • @ArileyS:

    In your otherwise excellent comments you wrote "...the US media is largely responsible for the demonization of the word [drone]...."

    No, "largely" is incorrect, it should be "entirely."  Everyone knows that the media feeds on negatives. Positive "news" of any sort is given scant notice if any unless it has some sort of pyrotechnical component ("Blind double amputee catches baby falling from bridge!"). What sells goes front and center, and "drone" has become pure gold. Thus the constant negative reinforcement will continue, no matter how clever our UAVs become at keeping gophers out of Aunt Emma's rose garden.

    We are just going to have to live with that.

  • @ Andy: Brilliant!

    At the field:

    "Is that a (gasp!) drone?"

    "No, ma'am, it's a Hell Hornet."

    Love it! Gonna use it! Fark 'em if they can't take a joke.

    Seriously: As I have already written here, the attempt to engineer a change in the language is doomed. Nevertheless I do think "Aerobot" would have a chance of becoming widely recognized in the long run not as an outright replacement for "drone" but as a casual alternative, like "automobile" or "auto" is used today in addition to "car."

  • I'm left to shake my head at some of the "embrace drone" and "people are excited" comments because my experience has been so radically opposite to what's being suggested.  The only thing I can come up with is that most of you on that side of the argument do not live in the United States, as is the case with the author, and have more fertile ground for "drones" to be perceived positively.  Perhaps your peers have actually seen them in positive use thanks to a more reasonable regulatory environment?  

    In contrast, the US media is largely responsible for the demonization of the word and the US population has mostly never seen them in use in the real world, especially not in positive (commercial) ways.  The damage is done here, and I strongly doubt that the average American will ever feel good about using the word "drone" to describe the technology, no matter how accessible and/or useful it's allowed to become.

    What's tiresome is not this argument ... what's tiresome are the looks I get when people see a camera on my foamie and the suspicion I can sense when they find out I'm a "drone enthusiast."

  • +1 Scott, exactly my first thought. The term "Hacker" has been used by media for people breaking into systems for the last 20 years or so. It's not the correct (original) meaning or at least only part of it. I don't think this is going to change with the word "Drone".

  • So... I am a hacker. But anyone who is not a software programmer often assumes that is someone who breaks into computers. It has never meant that, but that is what the media thinks. When I deal with the media I don't tend to say "As a hacker..." because it will be misunderstood. Embrace the suck (like it) - Can't call myself a hacker to the media, can't say Drone.

  • Perhaps "Hell Hornets" might be the next state of evolution after my test quad tried to kill me with Arducopter 3.2! :-)

  • I speak at area agricultural meetings and discuss the use of this technology often, if I try to use UAV/UAS everyone says "you mean a drone?"  I attempted to stay away from the D-word at first but I think, as stated above, most intelligent people know the difference between military and civilian.

    Several Dallas media outlets have been to my ranch when I hosted "group gatherings".  Most articles were presented in a positive outlook until we had a few bad apples talk about flying over Dallas landmarks.

    I no longer host anything at my ranch because of this bad press, which sucks because we always had large turnouts and there was great brainstorming going on.

    I agree with Bill English, embrace the suck

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