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What Americans Think of Drone Delivery

More Americans like the concept of drone delivery than dislike it, but a large number have yet to decide. That’s just one finding of a new national survey administered by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG).

With drone delivery the subject of much interest in the logistics industry, the OIG wanted to assess the public’s view of the idea. The survey asked about the overall appeal of drones, their most- and least-interesting applications, the believability of claims about benefits, potential concerns, and more.

  • More Americans like the concept of drone delivery than dislike it, but a large number have yet to decide.
  • Drone malfunction is the public’s primary concern – far more than fears about intentional misuse.
  • Exposure to information about drone delivery correlates with greater interest in the idea.
  • The American public anticipates that drone delivery will be offered within the next 5 to 10 years.

The national conversation about drone delivery began after a December 2013 60 Minutes interview in which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos predicted that, although the technology was still 4 to 5 years away, someday the skies would be filled with an army of flying machines zipping back and forth between warehouses and people’s homes. Since Amazon’s surprising introduction of the concept, there has been a flurry of activity among logistics organizations, drone manufacturers, and postal operators in countries as far-flung as Switzerland, Singapore, and Australia, all exploring how to bring the idea to fruition.

One important voice that has yet to be truly heard on the topic, however, is that of the everyday citizens who could benefit from, or perhaps dislike, having parcel-laden drones flying overhead.

If the U.S. Postal Service intends to consider the option of incorporating drones into its operations, tracking the public’s rapidly evolving perception of this new mode of delivery will be essential to shaping the groundwork of Postal Service’s strategy. Though it will still take a few years for the technology to mature and the regulatory framework to emerge, proactively examining the concept could allow the Postal Service to better assess its operational feasibility, fundamental economics, regulatory compliance, and social implications.

In order to understand the current state of public opinion on drone delivery, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) administered a national survey investigating the public’s take on the overall appeal of drone technology, its most and least interesting applications, the believability of claims about its potential benefits, the public’s expected timeframe for implementation, potential concerns, and how the public would view drone delivery if it were offered by five prominent players in the logistics and technology fields.

Read all the findings in Public Perception of Drone Delivery in the United States, available on the USPS OIG website.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.