Public Perception of Drones in the UK: 68% See Positive Impact
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Photo © Lewis Clarke (cc-by-sa/2.0)

In the UK, public perception of drones is improving.  A new study shows that more than 2/3 of UK public believe drones will positively impact the future.

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

Today, new research has been released from the “Project XCelerate” Consortium, led by BT and Altitude Angel, finding that more than two thirds (68%) of the British public believe drones will have a positive impact on their life in the future, with nearly half (49%) saying they are optimistic or excited about the potential drone technology holds.

The British public is most positive about the impact drones can have on society for the greater good, with research finding that 49% hope to see drones used in place of people for risky jobs like firefighting (76%) and inspecting infrastructure (70%). Meanwhile, two in five wish to see drones employed in order to extend human capabilities and reach otherwise inaccessible areas (42%), such as in tracking criminals (65%) or investigating crime scenes (73%).

The over 65 range prioritized human safety, agreeing it was the biggest benefit of drone use. The under 30 group (36%) found the environmental benefits of drones to be equally important to human safety, with a focus on utilizing drones to support reduction in air pollution.

Despite the positive attitude towards the potential for drone applications, 38% of people were still found to have concerns about drone use in the UK, with nearly half of all adults saying drone misuse (46%) and public safety, alongside privacy (48%) around personal data and private property, were their primary concerns. Some concerns may be the result of public misconceptions, as 47% of British citizens were found to believe that drone usage remains unregulated, when in reality, strict regulations are in place for drone operation across the UK and continue to be developed and implemented by the Civil Aviation Authority as usage expands.

This report is just one part of Project XCelerate’s broader work on the UK Government’s Future Flight Programme. The findings will be leveraged to inform the consortium’s work in addressing some of the challenges surrounding the public acceptance of drones.

“It’s encouraging to see that broadly the public recognise the future opportunities of drone technology, and the positive impact drones can have on society through providing potentially life-saving services,” said Dave Pankhurst, Head of drone solutions at BT. “But the findings also highlight the need to better inform the public to help address any concerns they might have around the acceleration of drones in our everyday lives. To unlock the potential of drones, close collaboration with a number of key stakeholders, from the public, government, regulators, and the industry is needed. Through Project XCelerate we aim to help contribute to safely opening up the skies, creating new opportunities for the future of drone flight.”

“We’re seeing drones save lives and change the way we live and work on an almost daily basis.” added Richard Parker, CEO and founder of Altitude Angel. “The technology we’re developing and deploying with partners, like BT, will be the foundation on which the UK builds and enables its drone economy.”

In demonstrating how drones can be utilized for a positive impact in such cases as search and rescue missions, infrastructure inspection, and the delivery of medical supplies, Project XCelerate seeks to influence current airspace restrictions in order to safely expand the potential of drone technology.

Read more about public perception of drones, drones in public safety, and UK-based Altitude Angel’s Guardian UTM solutions.

Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.