Poll: 43% of Americans oppose the commercial use of drones, especially to make deliveries

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Just because the likes of Amazon, Google and Facebook are exploring the use of drones doesn’t mean Americans are going to embrace them with open arms. In fact, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows there are more Americans who oppose the use of commercial drones than there are Americans who support their use.

The poll, which surveyed 1,010 American adults ages 18+ online Dec. 4-8, found that 43 percent of respondents oppose allowing private operators to use unmanned aircraft (i.e., drones) for commercial purposes. Of this segment, 21 percent said they “somewhat oppose” the use of commercial drones, while 22 percent said they “strongly oppose” it.

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This was double the 21 percent response in favor of the use of commercial drones. Of this segment, 7 percent said they “strongly favor” this use of drones, while 14 percent said they “somewhat favor” it.

Meanwhile, 35 percent of respondents said they neither favor nor oppose the commercial use of drones, while 2 percent did not give an answer.

The poll also asked respondents about specific uses of drones. Using drones for performing dangerous safety inspections (e.g., on oil platforms or bridges) received the most favorable response (63 percent in favor), followed by using drones to help map terrain by way of aerial photography (57 percent in favor) and using drones to monitor wildlife (55 percent in favor).

Amazon and Google might be interested to know that 39 percent of respondents were opposed to the use of drones to deliver small packages. Meanwhile, 38 percent were opposed to using drones to take aerial photographs or videos at weddings or other private events; and 38 percent of respondents oppose the non-commercial, recreational use of drones.

The poll also found that 59 percent of respondents were extremely or very concerned that private operators could use drones in ways that violate people’s privacy.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is expected to announce more specific restrictions for drones, recently released data showing a number of recent incidents involving drones flying dangerously close to larger aircraft, a scenario that makes 41 percent of respondents to the AP-GfK poll extremely or very concerned.

The FAA has granted permission to a number of movie and TV production companies to use drones. However, the federal agency has yet to give their take on the use of drones to take selfies or spark holiday romance.