12 June 2015

Changing terminology: Of UAVs and drones

The post is a follow-up to Euronaval note: Of UAVs, UASs, RPAs, RPASs, drones and more, dated 5 November 2014. As reported there, I keep rewriting the entry for the French term drone in my working glossary every few months.

The last paragraph of my post of 5/11/2014 read:
Save where earlier documents dictate which designation(s) should be used in a given translation, a short history of my preferred equivalents for drone aérien télé-opéré and the like reads as follows:
  • until 2013: UAV
  • 2014: UAS
  • henceforth and until further notice: RPAS
Based on work and research undertaken over the last couple of weeks for the 2015 Paris Air Show, the list should now read:
  • until 2013: UAV
  • 2014: UAS
  • January to June 2015: RPAS
  • henceforth: drone, UAV and UAS (in that order of priority).
  • given that the plural form of acronyms ending in -S are both typographically ugly and difficult to pronounce, especially for non-English-mother-tongue speakers (examples include UASs and RPASs), these acronyms are best avoided wherever possible
  • the preference expressed by General Atomics in 2013 (see post of 5/11/2014) now appears dated
  • the journalistic expression "Obama: the 'drone presidency'" and countless media pieces on civil and military drones have had a significant impact on the word's ranking relative to its synonyms.

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After completing a BSc in physics and maths in Australia and extended travels in Africa I found a job in Paris that left me with considerab...