What People Really Think About Drones: Fortem Technologies’ New Survey Results Reveal the Good and the Bad

May 5 is International Drone Day, and in conjunction with that event leading AI-enabled airspace awareness and intelligence firm Fortem Technologies released its consumer survey findings, revealing public opinion of a future with drone technology. Public opinion is an important issue for the industry. Here in the U.S., discussion over the drone laws for recreational operators and calls by local governments for strict limits on flight point to real concerns over the role of drones in communities. The Fortem survey reveals what the majority of consumers want from drone technology – and what they’re afraid of.

“…The majority of consumers rank public safety the highest as an application for drone technology they want to see most– police and security efforts, search and rescue, etc.– when compared to entertainment and air taxi services,” says Fortem. That’s good news for the industry, and demonstrates something pointed out last fall by former FAA Administrator Michael Huerta: the series of natural disasters that took place around the globe last year showed the public what drones can do to serve their communities. Those verticals are growing rapidly, as public services departments realize the safety benefits that drone provides.

But along with an appreciation for the good that drones can do comes a growing fear, and this is something that the drone industry needs to worry about. “96 percent of consumers surveyed also cited concerns about the
use of drones. This discrepancy points to the need for more awareness of public safety rules, technologies, regulation of airspace and drone safety and security in order for public adoption of these benefits to continue to emerge,” says Fortem.

“A drone-filled world will advance society in areas such as life-saving delivery services, protection and surveillance, search and rescue and more; but it is crucial that safety and security measures are taken from the beginning to ensure these benefits can be realized,” says Fortem Technologies CEO Timothy Bean. “The drone industry is growing rapidly only because these safety and security measures now exist.”

Other key findings of the survey include: Consumers believe there should be established no-fly zones. Over 50 percent of respondents believe hospitals, government buildings, schools, city centers, and concert venues should be no-fly zones. Most respondents hold a neutral perspective about drones, as opposed to a negative one. 39 percent said they felt curious when they saw a drone flying near them at a safe distance, and 14 percent said they felt neutral.

Findings indicate the age requirement to fly a drone should change. 70 percent of respondents believe the thirteen years old age requirement to register a drone is too young. This survey was conducted using the SurveyMonkey platform, and the 716 consumer respondents were sought out via the platform and social media. The gender of respondents was 47 percent male and 51 percent female, and the age ranges are as follows: 18 percent 18-29 years old, 27 percent 30-44 years old, 21 percent 45-60 years old, 33 percent over 60 years old.