The idea is to promote the impression of drones — sorry, unmanned systems — as a technology that leads to more than just explosions. A surging international business in this stuff has recently drawn a great deal of attention in the United States, helped along by announcements from Amazon.com concerning drone-based parcel delivery. Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration is working on policies to integrate drones into the national airspace, or NAS. (Using only technologically neutral terms underscores how cumbersome it can be to talk about drones: "The FAA is integrating UAS into the NAS.")
How awkward would it be if Obama said "remotely piloted vehicles" or "unmanned aerial vehicles?" The language debate is over and Drone won.
— Kelsey D. Atherton (@AthertonKD) January 29, 2014
It's much simpler, and more accessible, to use the word everyone else does. If you're among the people worried about that — don't. Definitions change. And now that Obama has very consciously dropped the word in a major televised speech, there's no going back. "Drone" is here to stay.