AUVSI is still AUVSI, but the acronym is a bit different these days. Formerly short for “Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International,” the autonomous robotics industry association is getting a slight rename. In the AUVSI gender-neutral rebrand — which was announced at the end of February 2022 — the word ‘unmanned’ has been replaced with ‘uncrewed.’
Under this AUVSI gender-neutral renaming, the acronym is the same, but it now stands for the ‘Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International.’ AUVSI acknowledged that its name change was intended ‘to reflect ongoing efforts to promote gender inclusivity,’ according to a prepared statement.
Expect to see AUVSI drop the word “unmanned” and other gender-specific terms in its name, governing documents, and association language.
“As the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the uncrewed systems industry, AUVSI represents diverse membership across domains; across the defense, civil and commercial markets; and across industry, government and academia,” said Dr. Virginia (Suzy) Young, Chair of the Board of Directors in a prepared statement. “We are committed to creating a welcoming and inspiring environment for all of our members as we identify and tackle common challenges, goals and opportunities.”
The AUVSI gender-neutral name change isn’t particularly surprising, given recent conversations that have been happening in the broader aviation industry. In June 2021, the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) met to discuss gender-neutral language. That group, which includes representatives from organizations including Google sister company Wing, Amazon Prime Air and Skydio, approved four recommendations to adopt gender-neutral language for the drone community including removing terms like “man-made” with “manufactured” or “fabricated” from FAA documentation. For example, the term “cockpit” would be replaced with “flight deck” in the official FAA lexicon.
AUVSI is a giant global trade association for the autonomy, robotics, and automated air, ground and maritime vehicle industries, including flying drones. It represents entrepreneurs, engineers, and companies big and small throughout the area of robotics.
Both robotics and aviation have struggled with female representation. Only an estimated 6.7 percent of currently registered FAA drone pilots are women, while a slightly higher 8 percent of traditional FAA pilots are women. And American drone maker Skydio put out a report earlier this year stating that just 5% of Skydio 2 drones were purchased by women.
Along with the name change, AUVSI also announced the creation of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Advisory Group. The group is being chaired by Mignonne Hollis, who also serves as the executive director of the Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation and is the founder of Aerospace Arizona.
“In this groundbreaking industry, we know that inclusivity accelerates innovation,” she said. “We urge all stakeholders to follow the leadership of AUVSI in adopting gender-inclusive language that invites all to participate and help drive the discussions that will shape our collective future.”