Public perceptions remain barrier to drone potential for businesses
Written by staff reporter
Public perceptions remain a barrier to drone uptake in the UK according to new research from PwC. Less than a third of the public, (31%) feel positively towards drones, while more than two thirds are concerned about the potential use of drones for criminal purposes. This contrasts with 56% of business leaders who are positive about drones and their benefits - when including those already using drones in their business, this rises to 83%.
PwC’s latest research, ‘Building trust in drones - the importance of education, accountability and reward’, is based on a survey of the public and business leaders on their attitudes towards drones and drone regulation. It suggests that business sees low public confidence in drone technology as a barrier to business development. More than a third (35%) of business leaders believe drones are not being adopted in their industry because of these negative perceptions. This is despite 43% of those surveyed believing their industry would benefit from drone use.
Elaine Whyte, UK drones leader at PwC, said: “There are clear disparities in attitudes towards drones between business and the wider public. It is also strikingly clear that the potential of drone technologies is not fully understood. The drone community across industry, government and civil society needs to change the public discourse from one of uncertainties and toys, to one of opportunity and accountability.
“This can be achieved through better education on the wealth of use cases for drones, as well as increasing understanding of regulation and accountability. The public will only trust a new technology if they understand who is regulating and providing oversight.
“Our research has found that drones could add an additional £42bn to the UK economy by 2030. To really achieve these positive outcomes the drone community has much to do to educate wider society.”
Underpinning the negative perception of drones is a lack of understanding from both business and the public of drone applications. Just over half (53%) of business leaders admit that there is a lack of understanding of drones in general, so they are not considered for their business.
In terms of accountability and regulation, 70% of the public would not feel confident in identifying a drone being misused. This lack of understanding about regulation and responsibility clearly underpins uncertainty and negative perceptions more broadly. Responsibility for flying a drone also remains a contentious issue with 96% of the public wanting drone ownership to have a minimum age limit and 77% believing that limit should be 16 or above.
Enforcement is one area where business leaders and the public agree, with 85% of business leaders and 83% of the public believing that in the event of a serious drone incident, relevant authorities should be able to take decisive actions- including forcibly removing drones from the sky.