America's current relationship with passenger drones

Tom FullerResearch Director
July 06, 2017, 9:13 PM GMT+0

New YouGov data shows that only a quarter of US adults have heard of them, and 54% say they'd feel unsafe flying in one

If you're a sentient reader of the news, you've likely heard about the race to build driverless cars between companies as diverse as Uber, Google, and Tesla. More traditional automakers, such as Toyota, Ford, and BMW, are also aiming to create a future without steering wheels.

What's less familiar to the American public, however, is the concept of driverless flying taxis — a service authorities in Dubai hope to launch later this year. Indeed, new data from YouGov shows that only a quarter of US adults have heard about passenger drones — i.e. unmanned aerial vehicles capable of transporting people from one location to another — while two-thirds have not.

(By contrast, about two-thirds of Americans claim to have at least some degree of meaningful familiarity with drones themselves.)

After having the concept of passenger drones explained to them, 54% of consumers said they'd feel unsafe riding in one. Only one in 20 people said they'd feel safe. A comparison of the genders found that women are more likely than men to consider the idea of flying without a pilot an unsafe proposition.

Additional data found that the ability to take control of the drone they were flying in alleviated some concerns over safety. 79% of US adults named this option as an essential feature for them to even consider boarding a drone that transports passengers.

At the same time, only 25% of consumers said they would never be interested in purchasing a passenger drone. 62% said they might be in the future, while 4% said they want one as soon as possible.