More than one-third of Americans surveyed nationally by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute—35.1 percent—say they would like someday to have an unmanned aerial mechanism or vehicle of their very own. The gadgets are more commonly known as drones.
Saint Leo (http://poll.saintleo.edu) asked people what they know and think about drones in an online survey completed by 1,007 adults between November 29 and December 3, 2015. Among respondents from all over the country, the term “drone” is commonly recognized: 78.4 percent said they are very aware or somewhat aware of the mechanisms.
Of those who were interested in having a drone, the leading reason cited was that they see it as “a fun hobby—more advanced than a model airplane.” In fact, 73.2 percent were drawn to the hobby idea. Respondents were allowed to choose more than one motive from a list of possibilities, but the others did not appeal as strongly. About one-third, 32.7 percent, said they want to see their “own property from heights.” The next most common answer was “safety/security interests,” chosen by 28.3 percent. And 11.7 percent admitted wanting “to observe my neighbors.”
Still, the majority of respondents don’t necessarily like the notion of drones becoming prevalent: 73.1 percent said they are somewhat concerned or very concerned about drones in U.S. airspace. That is almost as many people who said they know what a drone is. The top concerns articulated—respondents were allowed to select multiple reasons from a list—include these potential or feared scenarios:
• personal privacy issues, among 64.4 percent;
• potentially dangerous interference with airplanes, 57.8 percent;
• weaponized domestic drones, 56.4 percent;
• spying by the government on citizens, 50.7 percent;
• devices susceptible to hacking, 50.3 percent.
In answer to a different question, a resounding majority of 81.9 percent somewhat or strongly agreed that drones should be prohibited from photographing one’s backyard, house, and family. And 47.5 percent strongly or somewhat agreed that private citizens should be banned from owning drones.
“It is surprising that so many Americans want to ban private citizens from owning drones, even though more than one-third of survey respondents want to own a drone someday,” said Dr. Leo Ondrovic, a member of the Saint Leo University science faculty who is also a licensed pilot.
“Another contributing factor may be that a majority of respondents reported being unaware of altitude restrictions and regulations requiring licensing for videotaping,” noted Dr. Ondrovic, referring to a 400-foot ceiling for drone flights, and to rules that pertain to photography and taping.
“But,” he added, “there is widespread agreement that industrial use of drones should be regulated.” Indeed, 82.5 percent strongly or somewhat agreed that corporations should be licensed and regulated if they own drones.