Drone, UAV, or creepy robot bird: What do we call these things?

Photo of me flying at Balboa Island by my flying buddies over at www.wildpilots.com.

Photo of me flying at Balboa Island by my flying buddies over at www.wildpilots.com.

I’ve been a drone girl for the past few months now, and the one debate hotter than banning/regulating drones is what to call them.
Many people refer to them as drones. And many other people stop me mid-sentence, as soon as the word drone is used.

It’s no secret: drones have a negative connotation, largely because of military implications. However, the drones on this blog, and that are being discussed for FAA regulation, are far from that. These drones are $700 flying, hovering aircrafts where cameras can be attached to gather images from a different viewpoint. They deliver wedding cakes and save rhinos by spotting poachers.

So should we refer to them as the same name as a totally different piece of equipment that has been used for war?

Many sources say no. The word “drones” misleads the public and automatically gives a bad reputation to the work you do, no matter how good it really is (like people who use drones to protect orangutans or count fox habitats).

If this piece of equipment was changed, what would it be? UAV? That’s too much alphabet soup for me. J-Bot? That’s a term used by the Missouri Drone Journalism group, where I got my start, but it’s a little too jargon-y to go mainstream.

I’m of the opinion that we can change the connotation of drones. Drones have the power to change the world given the number of positive purposes for them. Especially as the FAA considers legislation and regulation, now is the time for people to prove positive drone use.

I think we should use the word drone. It’s short and simple. Doesn’t require much effort to spell. And after all, that’s what it is.

Maybe the “drones” used for military, negative purposes should be renamed. But for now, drones are here to stay.

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