Joining the push to make the drone community more gender-inclusive, AUVSI – the leading trade association for autonomy, robotics, and automated air, ground, and maritime vehicle industries – is rebranding itself as the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International.
In addition to dropping the word “unmanned” from its name, the nonprofit organization is also launching a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Advisory Group to celebrate its 50th anniversary year.
AUVSI president and CEO Brian Wynne points out that these initiatives are necessary to support growth within the emerging segments of the uncrewed systems community. Wynne says:
Under our new identity and with a cohesive voice, AUVSI will advance our bold vision of an autonomous future in which uncrewed technologies are integrated into society and provide lasting public and economic benefits.
Mignonne Hollis, who serves as the chair of the newly-established AUVSI DE&I Advisory Group, adds that inclusivity will help to accelerate innovation in the community. Here’s Hollis:
We urge all stakeholders to follow the leadership of AUVSI in adopting gender-inclusive language that invites all to participate and help drive the discussions that will shape our collective future.
Not the first name change for AUVSI
AUVSI has a legacy of changing its name to support the evolution of the industry. The association was founded as the National Association for Remotely Piloted Vehicles (NARP-V) in 1972 and rebranded itself as the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems (AUVS) in 1978. The term “international” was added in 1996 to become AUVSI. And on Wednesday, “unmanned” was dropped for “uncrewed” to create a more welcoming and inspiring environment for all members.
It should be highlighted that the current name change has been brought into force through a democratic process. A two-week electronic voting period was announced by the association earlier this year, at the end of which it was found that a majority of members were in favor of changing the name of AUVSI to the “Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International.”
Growing momentum behind the term ‘uncrewed’
The need for more egalitarian, gender-neutral language in the aviation ecosystem has been recognized by the FAA as well. In December 2021, the FAA quietly modified the acronym NOTAM from “Notice to Airmen” to the more applicable term “Notice to Air Missions.” In the meantime, the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) has also been pushing for the utilization of gender-neutral language to create “a more inclusive environment that draws more people to the industry and helps keep them there.”
Also noteworthy is the fact that the term “uncrewed” has been adopted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States, as well as the Canadian Department of National Defence, United Nations, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), and the Australian Association for Uncrewed Systems.
We here at DroneDJ made the switch from “unmanned” to “uncrewed” in July 2021. And as Romeo Durscher, vice president of public safety at Auterion, told us then:
It’s imperative that we as a society adjust our vocabulary to put the needed emphasis on equality. Adjusting terms sends a strong signal. And while some may not be happy, we in the drone industry have helped this effort and are in full support. This current approach will hopefully set a new tone and encourage the younger generation to get into fields that before were very male-dominated. I am happy about these developments.