In agriculture, drones help but name hurts

Some call them drones or unmanned autonomous vehicles. Others call them unmanned autonomous systems and still others call them ships.


It seems that whatever name has recently been used to describe these tiny aircraft, it doesn’t quite fit what commercial users like agriculture need. 


There seems to be a sinister connotation attached to them. After all, who trusts a guy with a tall stepladder and a camera? 


Commercially, the little planes take pictures that allow farmers to make cropping decisions, plan drainage or track livestock. Engineers use them to survey, energy companies to observe infrastructure, police to locate missing or hiding individuals or assess risk in disasters.


All are uses that are good for the environment, good for society or both. If you are doing something behind a fence or trees that you shouldn’t be doing, in any industry including agriculture, stop it and you will have nothing to fear from above.


Law enforcement and government might choose to use unmanned aircraft for surveillance, mostly without malice and for the most part it would be good for society and bad for law breakers.


They are good for recreation too. The little aerial vehicles have created a certain buzz, not just the kind their motors generate. Kids, big and little, have fun with them. Better than a video game if you ask me and we can learn to close the curtains on the second floor. 


Social media would lead us to believe that the small aircraft could soon deliver pizzas and books to our doorsteps. 


It’s not going to happen. You read it here first folks.


The word drone has an ominous association with the military, as an unmanned aircraft, whether autonomous or not, that removes risk from flight crews. Those tools are used to observe or hunt and kill enemies of a state. So, let’s leave the word drone to the military.


They aren’t ships, that term is confusing.


UAV, is also a military term.


Changing one word, from vehicle to system, seems disingenuous and that isn’t a good place to start with a new use of technology.


I have an idea. Why not call them radio-controlled aircraft? The name is associated with pilots and harmless hobbyists, who are technically adept and smarter than average. Oh, and that is what these are.