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Senior Advisor

UAS vs UAV vs Drone

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, Shakespeare tells us.  We also hear, a rose is a rose is a rose.


What's with all the names for these little unmanned airplanes?  


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) calles these little things unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).  Whetherh you like that name or not, if you are interested in doing searches about them involves the government or FAA, it would be wise to include the term UAS.


Media likes to call them drones.  It's short, snappy, easy to say and spell, and has some cachet.  It's wrong, but who cares?  There are two things wrong with the term.  First, because of association, it sounds like a weaponized system, something employed from far away by someone who does not have your interests at heart.  Because of that, police and other organizations who are interested in them are starting to use the UAS term because it doesn't have a lot of emotional baggage tied to it.


The other problem is a drone is more accurately something that is aimed and fired, like the V-1 Buzz Bomb of WWII or something that can and often does operate autonomously - in other words, after it's launched, it's out of control.


There is no doubt that as the words get used, there is a creeeping redefinition of wha tused to be a drone into what a UAS really is.  Probably people will use the terms interchangeably, so one must always interpret what the writer means if they use the term drone.


Industry used the phrase unmanned aerial verhicle (UAV) for a long time and many still find it the one they prefer.  No problem.  The only thing is, it's not how it's referred to by the feds.


As with much language we use in communication, the word chosen has inferences attached.   

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