Saturday, August 17, 2013

Shopping for a robot army: A day at the don’t-call-it-a-drone show

Ars Technica - This week, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) took over Washington, DC's convention center for its annual Unmanned Systems show. Once mostly a government- and defense-focused event, the conference has ramped up in size and scope in anticipation of the Federal Aviation Administration's decision on how to "integrate" unmanned aircraft into civil airspace.

Among the thousands of companies hawking their wares at the event, there were representatives from some 25 teams of state and local authorities, each vying to make its region one of the coveted designated test locations that will be announced by the FAA in December. Some, like Oklahoma, had their own booths set up to draw support from unmanned system manufacturers.

And about the "d" word—the members of the AUVSI want us all to drop the word "drone." In the press room, the password for the Wi-Fi network was "It'snotadrone." The word drone has taken on too much political baggage, thanks to news reports of the US' drone war against terrorists. And indeed, the unmanned aircraft and other vehicles at Unmanned Systems were largely of the kinder, gentler variety, though the biggest booths still belonged to companies selling to the US military and other customers who wear camouflage.   PTG

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