There’s an entire convention happening in Washington, DC this week for those in the drone business, but the unmanned aerial enthusiasts with close ties to the industry are going out of their way to keep the “d-word” from dropping by.
At the annual Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems
International conference in DC, there are UAVs and other robotic
systems aplenty. But at a time when the autonomous aircraft are
most well-known for executing lethal strikes overseas, often ones
killing civilians, those involved in the drone-biz are trying to
drop that dastardly reputation, beginning first with ditching the
“The average person on the street, and even intelligent and
informed people, when they think of the word ‘drone,’ they think
of the military, they think hostile, they think weaponized, they
think large and they think autonomous,” Michael Toscano,
president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems, told
“If you say the word ‘drone,’ 80 percent will pick the picture
of a Predator — that’s what’s wrong,” Toscano told the
Now as America prepares to enter a new age of drones where UAVs
are expected to soar in United States airspace soon by the tens
of thousands, Toscano and company are trying to change their
livelihood from being associated with lethal strikes.
The Federal Aviation Administration recently approved the first
two commercial UAV applications, and those drones are expected to
start flying later this month. But even those ones will be used
for environmental purposes, they are still not breaking the
stigma that comes with ones that are weaponized or used for
high-tech surveillance. Although it’s not the goal of the
conference, the AUVS wants “drone” to go away.
Talking to the Washington Times, Toscano acknowledged that the
“d-word,” and hopefully the negative connotation that comes with
it, aren’t used to demonize what some say could be a very crucial
tool for the future.
“If you look around here today, you don’t see that,” he
said. “Drones” is not a word he wants to be associated with.
“The key word is the word ‘systems.’ That’s the word we hope
the public will understand,” he said. “There is a human
being in the system. The human being is what makes the system.
When you say the word ‘drone,’ you don’t think of a human being
in control. That’s the real reason why” not to use the word
“drone,” he said.
Earlier this month at the annual DefCon hacker conference in Las
Vegas, Nevada, robotics scientist and drone enthusiast Dr. Andrew
“Zoz” Brooks told RT, “I [feel] like now we are on the cusp of
shared use acceptance of driverless vehicles on the road, shared
airspace with UAVs, and so it’s time to think about adversarial
relationships and how we make these systems bulletproof.”
But even if others are still learning that living alongside
autonomous vehicles will soon be unavoidable, Toscano and company
don’t want every UAV to be pigeonholed into the same category as
those nasty drones.
Want further proof? The WiFi password at this year’s convention,
the Times reported, is “DontSayDrones.”
Republished from: RT