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To DRONE or Not to DRONE

How should we treat the Media's use of the word "drone" to describe all RC aircraft?

  • Drones Bad: We don't fly drones

    Votes: 33 63.5%
  • Drones Good: We all fly drones

    Votes: 19 36.5%

  • Total voters
    52

RoyBro

Senior Member
Mentor
#1
The word "drone" has pretty much become a dirty word in The Media, yet we have some businesses using the word as part of their name. RC enthusiasts like myself, have become sensitive to the word, maybe a bit oversensitive. But like it or not, our small multi-rotors, and RC planes fall into the broad definition of "drone". So here's my question. Should we:
a) Accept The Media's negative perspective of drones and try to convince everyone that what we fly aren't "drones".
or
b) Reject the negative connotation of the word and try to convince everyone that we do fly drones and drones are not bad.

I'll try to add a poll to this message so we can get a quick count.
 
#2
Dude, their called Sport Hunting Rifles. How long do you think before "The Media" buys that label.

They are going to be called drones forever BECAUSE the Media needs a story and not calling something an Assault Rifle just don't get the picture right to sell advertisements.
 

RoyBro

Senior Member
Mentor
#3
I agree wholeheartedly. The media has made the term "drone" scary, bringing images of military aircraft such as the Predator. Here is an interesting story from PC Magazine Will Drones Ever Shake Their Military Pedigree?. It starts out by talking about drones and ends up talking about phraseology.

I guess I was wondering how we as RC Hobbyists should react. Should we try to change how the word "drone" is perceived, or should we divorce ourselves from the word and adopt a more innocuous term such as UAV or UAS?
 

cranialrectosis

Faster than a speeding faceplant!
Mentor
#4
I think part of this has to do with where you live. I live in Colorado where we have a rural town wanting to issue drone hunting licenses. In this part of the country, if someone sees you flying, they will ask about a camera or they will call the police on you to investigate if you have a camera.

I have attempted to fly my copters twice at the local park and to fly a 3D once in the same park (all while it was empty) and was stopped by concerned homeowners who live near the park on all three occasions. One specifically wrote down my license plate and threatened to call the cops if I did not prove that I didn't have a camera on the 3D.

I now fly only in private, low to the ground and in my own yard. I no longer fly fixed wing at all because I cannot do so in my yard.

Asking a local farmer to hunt prarie dogs with my Savage model 12 is OK. Asking to fly a copter is most decidedly not, as he will have to explain to the sheriff what my 'drone' is doing over his farm. He doesn't want that hassle. Rifle shots do not draw the same level of interest here that a 'drone' does.

In Colorado, flying in public WILL get you harassed. Reporting the harassment will only escalate the harassment.

Using the word 'drone' in a positive way in public is utterly toxic here. If you do, you are REALLY asking for it.
 

DDSFlyer

Senior Member
#5
I hated the word Drone and was definitely sensitive to it when my father in law started inquiring about the hobby (even though he was interested in getting into quad copters). But I speak of what I fly as RC airplanes and quad/tri/hex-copters. I really don't see how what I fly is anywhere close to comparing it to a predator drone which is 200% bigger in size as what I fly (just a small bit of information to compare the two)
btw, in Colorado the fact that gun shots would get less level of interest as a buzzing quadcopter just amazes me. Guess they really must be doing some stuff that needs to be kept secret in Colorado compared to other places in this country...
 
#6
When I do fly FPV which hasn't been in quite some time. If bystanders ask, I tell them I am flying a hobby grade UAV. Believe it depends somewhat on how you carry yourself when questioned. I try to involve questioners, explain all the components and show them what I see. Even the hardest skeptics can be sucked in by just how cool it is. Many at the very least end up with a great deal of respect for all the know how and man hours invested. Texas too is much like Colorado but I do spend a great deal of time selecting FPV "honey holes" where my actions will draw less attention. Hope that all made sense, sick as a dog today....having a hard time formulating intelligent response.
 
#7
As an addendum I wouldn't mind seeing a license/permit system in place. Now I know suggesting this will make me quite the unpopular fellow but at some point some accountability will have to be enforced. I am not a AMA member, nor will i ever be...so this idea of licensing is borne out of my desire to see this niche of the rc hobby preserved. As Americans we have a tendency to believe the air space over our heads is "free" to all those who wish to use it, liberty in its purest form. It is my humble opinion such a perspective is flatly wrong. Now i am not advocating licensing for all those who wish to FPV. Simple guidelines could be established, perhaps based on weight, capability, distance and power of Vid TX. I would very much like to see the guy in a park flying around on a saturday left out of this equation. Let him have his fun but for those a bit more serious about distance, endurance and autonomy there are responsibilities and obligations to the community at large. We all know the guy here in the forums with more money than sense, we help him as much as possible but ultimately don't say much because "self-policing" may end up dragging the whole thing down. Still not making any sense.....in summation, without some basic level of classes we are all lumped into one bucket so far as the average citizen is concerned....they don't care if your rig is only $200 with limited range or $5,000 and capable of miles upon miles. I have purposely set aside my FPV gear until things are settled.....there is a ground swell of rebels without a cause taking over this little niche and i would rather not be associated with them when the S*#@ hits the fan.
 
#8
How it's defined in my head:

Drone: Any platform that has been weaponized with lethal or non-lethal

UAV: Any flying platform that is remotely piloted and primarily includes some form of machine vision. (FPV,Surveillance, ect)

RC Aircraft: Radio Controlled Aircraft that is line of sight (assisted or not) i.e. No transmitted video.

But that's just me. I think we're going to be stuck with the term "Drone" as the popular "media" term for anything that isn't a model of a warbird or a Cub. "Oh those are just RC planes, those aren't drones." This regardless of the fact you can just as easily put a pan tilt into their cockpits and an ardupilot with full GPS, waypoint, loiter, return to home, etc. in them.
 
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#9
<-------yeah just so you know, that licensing suggestion forced me off RCG way back in the day. FPV bullies that took offense, trolled my every post even if entirely unrelated. Hoping the same won't happen here.
 

Craftydan

Hostage Taker of Quads
Moderator
Mentor
#10
<-------yeah just so you know, that licensing suggestion forced me off RCG way back in the day. FPV bullies that took offense, trolled my every post even if entirely unrelated. Hoping the same won't happen here.
You're not alone. I may or may not agree with opinions in a post, but open disrespect will ruin any fruitful discussion.

IMO, (speaking only as a member) this is a forum to share ideas, not nessisarily to come to a consensus -- there might be right and wrong, but we can disagree without winning and loosing. If someone moves from "That's a tereble Idea" to "you're a terrible person to think that way", you've crossed that respect line and I'd expect folks from both sides to cry foul. there's seldom this kind of disrespect here, and I'd hope we'd all stand up against it.

</soapbox>

Back OT, while I see others points about the public's (read: sheeple's) fear of words, If you don't push back, it will only get worse.

How do you push back?

Wear the name proudly, but be clear. yes, this is as dangerous as, say, driving in traffic -- and explain why.

One conversation I had, after I handed over a 2m power glider to the lady and she was shocked how light it was, then looked on quizzically -- "how could this light thing be dangerous?" then I pointed out the propeller, but told her of what I do to keep safe. Light goes on, and she's back to "I have a 7 year old grandson . . . " Once the danger is understood, it's back to "driving in traffic" safe, and "drones" don't carry "spy gear" or weapons.

As for cameras + FPV, always have gear to show off (assuming the person is reasonable enough to view the demo). if you're running a keychain cam, have a tablet nearby you can use to show off the video, else let them have a look into the goggles. point it to some medium-small text and ask them to read it . . .

What? Can't make it out? Now *HOW* am I going to spy into your windows 500' away, when they're not much more than a speck on the screen?

These folks are afraid of the wrong things. if you can engage them in dialog, and show them what's dangerous and what's not, fair chance you'll end up with a ally rather than a foe.
 
#11
You're not alone. I may or may not agree with opinions in a post, but open disrespect will ruin any fruitful discussion.

IMO, (speaking only as a member) this is a forum to share ideas, not nessisarily to come to a consensus -- there might be right and wrong, but we can disagree without winning and loosing. If someone moves from "That's a tereble Idea" to "you're a terrible person to think that way", you've crossed that respect line and I'd expect folks from both sides to cry foul. there's seldom this kind of disrespect here, and I'd hope we'd all stand up against it.

</soapbox>

Back OT, while I see others points about the public's (read: sheeple's) fear of words, If you don't push back, it will only get worse.

How do you push back?

Wear the name proudly, but be clear. yes, this is as dangerous as, say, driving in traffic -- and explain why.

One conversation I had, after I handed over a 2m power glider to the lady and she was shocked how light it was, then looked on quizzically -- "how could this light thing be dangerous?" then I pointed out the propeller, but told her of what I do to keep safe. Light goes on, and she's back to "I have a 7 year old grandson . . . " Once the danger is understood, it's back to "driving in traffic" safe, and "drones" don't carry "spy gear" or weapons.

As for cameras + FPV, always have gear to show off (assuming the person is reasonable enough to view the demo). if you're running a keychain cam, have a tablet nearby you can use to show off the video, else let them have a look into the goggles. point it to some medium-small text and ask them to read it . . .

What? Can't make it out? Now *HOW* am I going to spy into your windows 500' away, when they're not much more than a speck on the screen?

These folks are afraid of the wrong things. if you can engage them in dialog, and show them what's dangerous and what's not, fair chance you'll end up with a ally rather than a foe.
FT forums needs a thumbs up feature.
 

cranialrectosis

Faster than a speeding faceplant!
Mentor
#12
lonewolf, I hate licensing and taxes, but I see your point.

I'd rather we took steps to ensure that everyone who is building one of these is exposed to basic safety and consideration rules.

Not everyone will follow them, but the harder we work to promote safety, the better our hobby will be.

I have been flying multirotors for a few months and I have never seen any formal safety rules or heard of AMA until today.

Maybe we can petition the FT guys to make a video about safety and promote it like a PSA on hobby sites?

Sorry RoyBro, didn't mean to derail your poll.
 

RoyBro

Senior Member
Mentor
#14
<-------yeah just so you know, that licensing suggestion forced me off RCG way back in the day. FPV bullies that took offense, trolled my every post even if entirely unrelated. Hoping the same won't happen here.
Definitely not going to happen here.

IMO, (speaking only as a member) this is a forum to share ideas, not nessisarily to come to a consensus -- there might be right and wrong, but we can disagree without winning and loosing. If someone moves from "That's a tereble Idea" to "you're a terrible person to think that way", you've crossed that respect line and I'd expect folks from both sides to cry foul. there's seldom this kind of disrespect here, and I'd hope we'd all stand up against it.
Hear, Hear!
 

RoyBro

Senior Member
Mentor
#15
Sorry RoyBro, didn't mean to derail your poll.
No worries here. I started the thread to promote a discussion about what we might do to mitigate the negative views of "drones" perpetuated by the media. Or whether we should simply promote a different term for what we fly.

All ideas are welcome. :)
 
#17
No worries here. I started the thread to promote a discussion about what we might do to mitigate the negative views of "drones" perpetuated by the media. Or whether we should simply promote a different term for what we fly.

All ideas are welcome. :)
The sad thing is that "Drone" is alot easier for people outside of the hobby to latch on to because it's an actual word that has been annexed for this new meaning. We throw around FPV, UAV, UAS and such but since they aren't actually words they don't have the sticking power. My eight year old still calls his music player his "M3P player" and his dad is Nerd.

With related terms like 'Robot' most people have a mental image that comes up, some sort of metal person full of electronics that walks around and talks C3PO. Sadly when you say "Drone" to someone they see a Global Hawk or Predator, a faceless, canopy free, grey airplane, delivering high explosive payloads via a black and white image from half a globe away.

We need a term that would paint a clear picture of what we do but sadly more people have seen a "Drone Strike" on the news with some file footage of the aforementioned platforms than an FPV video. It may be we need something that holds on to that hobbiest anchor of "RC". If you mention to the average person "I'm into RC cars/boats/airplanes/helicopters" they get that. So maybe we just tack on something like "with video". I fly RC Planes with video.

When I describe to people outside of the hobby what FPV is I phrase it as "It's like you are flying the model from the cockpit. Like you're inside that plane and flying." This seems to light a bit of awe in them and speaks to their inner kid.

Anyway, I think we'd need some easy to latch on to term that hold to the HOBBY side of it. Let the commercial stuff be called 'unmanned aerial photography' or some such.
 
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Foam Addict

Squirrel member
#18
I think part of this has to do with where you live. I live in Colorado where we have a rural town wanting to issue drone hunting licenses. In this part of the country, if someone sees you flying, they will ask about a camera or they will call the police on you to investigate if you have a camera.

I have attempted to fly my copters twice at the local park and to fly a 3D once in the same park (all while it was empty) and was stopped by concerned homeowners who live near the park on all three occasions. One specifically wrote down my license plate and threatened to call the cops if I did not prove that I didn't have a camera on the 3D.

I now fly only in private, low to the ground and in my own yard. I no longer fly fixed wing at all because I cannot do so in my yard.

Asking a local farmer to hunt prarie dogs with my Savage model 12 is OK. Asking to fly a copter is most decidedly not, as he will have to explain to the sheriff what my 'drone' is doing over his farm. He doesn't want that hassle. Rifle shots do not draw the same level of interest here that a 'drone' does.

In Colorado, flying in public WILL get you harassed. Reporting the harassment will only escalate the harassment.

Using the word 'drone' in a positive way in public is utterly toxic here. If you do, you are REALLY asking for it.
Hey all, I fly on public openspace behind my house, and have so for 3 years. It really is not that big of a deal IF you abide by the rules.
I have only had 2 accidents that landed on private property, one a plane disintegrated and crashed in a neighbor's yard, and the other a plane hit a window due to structural failure. I called the neighbors immediately, explained what I had done, and payed for the window. I have an excellent rapport with the neighbors, and have had zero crashes within 100 ft of neighboring houses since those 3 years ago.

My keys are, refer to it as a hobby, call it an rc plane, never mention the words drone or autonomous, and never, ever hide anything. If somebody is concerned about it, I discuss it with them. Also, showing the kids always helps!:D
 

rcspaceflight

creator of virtual planes
#20
Call FPV aircraft "hobby drones"? Or, even better, "Non-weaponized drones".

I don't think the word "drone" will ever go away and military drones will never not be compared to FPV. I think the media has done a good job of calling military drones: "military drones". And everything else simply "drones". But the media does know that people associate the word "drone" to simply mean "military drone". It's a technicality that the media knows they can get away with.

The problem isn't fully the media but is also the average Joe. The only problem I see with calling FPV "Hobby Drones" is that it still conjures up the word "spying". But, not really. And it might be a good idea in the long run to embrace the word while making it less harmful. It is a "hobby". It is a "drone".