A new survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute shows the public is divided about whether civilian drones would make great package-delivery vehicles or are nuisances that should be banned.
According to the poll, 84% of respondents were aware of unmanned aerial vehicles, more popularly known as drones, up from 78.4% last year.
As the public has grown more familiar with drones, concern levels have dropped from 73.1% to 65.6% regarding the presence of drones in airspace. Often-reported reasons for concern this year were interference with airplanes (70%) and personal privacy issues (71.5%).
There is high support for use of drones by community police departments (72%), in warfare (86.3%), and as a military alternative to deployment of ground troops (69.1%).
More than one-third of respondents, 36.8%, see drones having potential benefits to consumer society. They agreed with the statement: “I would be open to receiving deliveries by drone from such companies as Amazon or Wal Mart.” Nearly half, 47.9%, disagreed with the statement, though.
The survey also found that 43.4% of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that they would support a municipal ban on drones within their own communities. Basically the same proportion, 41.1%, would not support a drone ban, and 15.5% were unsure.
The varying sentiments make for a stalemate in the public sphere, observed Dr. Leo Ondrovic, a member of the Saint Leo University science faculty and a licensed pilot.
“You can’t want to ban them, and also want to fly them or have them deliver packages,” he said.
Ondrovic noted that 21.8% of respondents nationally said that they are very or somewhat interested in owning a drone. While the reported ownership interest is down from last year’s level of 35.1%, retailers of all kinds have been marketing drones heavily this year. And the survey found 9.7% of respondents either already have or plan to purchase a drone this holiday season.