Drones, quadcopters – What do you call them?

DJI Phantom 2 LEDs

Drones, quadcopters, hexacopters, octocopters, UAV, UAS – a whole new language has emerged and the correct use of terminology continues to provoke debate, some of it heated and passionate.  Every now and again you might see someone posting a comment in a forum or in one of the growing number of multirotor user groups on Facebook, exclaiming, “They’re quadcopters, not drones!  Drones have weapons that kill people! “

These voices of protest are promoting a lost cause.  The word drones has been adopted by the world’s media and is now the de facto word for referring to any unmanned aircraft whether its payload is a DSLR camera or a Hellfire missile.

It should not come as any surprise to see journalists refer to camera equipped quadcopters in this way.  The designers, manufacturers, and marketeers who have brought these devices to us refer to their inventions as drones.

  • DJI Innovations call them drones (from dji.com: “DJI – The World Leader in Camera Drones/Quadcopters for Aerial Photography”)
  • 3DRobotics call them drones (from 3drobotics.com: “3DR is committed to creating the best drones available“)
  • Parrot call them drone – ardrone2.parrot.com

Besides, if a news editor wants a headline are they going to use ‘camera equipped quadcopters‘ (too long), ‘UAV‘ (readers won’t know what that means), or ‘drones‘?

Predator and Reaper drones

Drones used in warfare for reconnaissance and attack are a controversial subject, but there are several sides to this story.  Rather than repeat what you’ve read on a blog or a single article on the subject, why not read up on the history of this weapon and develop a more balanced view.  The book, “Predators – the CIA’s drone war on al-Qaeda”, by Bryan Glyn Williams, gives the history, the facts, and the ethical arguments on both sides.  Some of those facts may surprise you.

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Thorarinn Jonsson - January 20, 2015 Reply

Hi. I have DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus ver. 3.0
I’m in Iceland. Phantom = Ghost is in Icelandic Vofa or Draugur.
I wanted to use 1 of these names for my Phantom. But when I talk to people about it I always call it a ‘Drone’ or in Icelandic ‘Dróni’. I never call it a Helicopter or a Quadcopter.

Is it a Ghost?? Should I call it Draugur??

Greetings from Iceland.

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