AUVSI: Don’t Say “Drone!” No, really, don’t say drone.

A piece of paper taped up in the AUVSI media room uses the password to remind reports not to us the “d word.”

When attending a convention like this week’s Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) show in Washington DC, reporters live or die by the media setup. Arriving to find your access to internet has been cut off creates a feeling of despair in a harried reporter trying to get his or her copy online as quickly as possible.

So, let the record show that AUVSI’s media team did a fantastic job with their media room, providing lots of outlets, comfy chairs and very fast, very accessible wifi.

That said, take a look at the sign above, which was one of many posted around the media center. Notice the password?  “DONTSAYDRONES.” What’s that about? 

Longtime readers of Intercepts may recall a post from May discussing the history of the term drone, and why it should be ok to use. But both industry and the Pentagon have gone out of their way to eliminate the d-word, preferring things like unmanned aerial systems (UAVs), remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs), and remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs).

Why? The term “drone” has taken on a negative connotation, with the public linking it to military strikes critics describe as dubious legally.  At AUVSI this week, the anti-war group Code Pink staged a protest, complete with a pink model of a drone and fake bodies laid out on the ground. Members of Congress, most notable Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, have also been critical of the Obama administration’s use of unmanned systems.

Given that reputation, it’s hard to blame groups like AUVSI for trying to avoid the term, and we’ll give them credit for coming up with a creative way to remind reporters of that. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t use the term “drone” as many times as possible in this post.

Aaron Mehta

Aaron Mehta

Air Warfare Correspondent at Defense News
Aaron covers the Air Force for Defense News. In his spare time, he tweets about the Air Force for Defense News. Follow him @AaronMehta
Aaron Mehta