Back in 2016, the United States Postal Service published a report on the public perception of drone delivery in the US. This was nearly 3 years after Jeff Bezos announced on 60 Minutes that Amazon was working on a drone delivery service and that it would arrive within the next 5 years (so by 2019). I think USPS was trying to figure out how to be, or appear, more innovative.
Not surprisingly, the report found that Millennials were significantly more supportive of drone delivery (65%) compared to Baby Boomers (24%), who strongly dislike the idea. Generally, the report indicates that the percentage of people who think it’s a good idea declines with every preceding or older generation. Again, I don’t find this at all surprising.
But what I did find interesting was that, irrespective of age, respondents were primarily concerned with some sort of “malfunction.” This was at the top of the list. Next in line were concerns around “intentional misuse,” such as drones being used to transport illicit goods or to spy on people and/or property.
Closer to the bottom of the list was a concern that drone delivery “might make the sky less pleasant to look at.” My own view is that visual clutter and noise pollution are critical problems to address here. There’s talk of “drone highways in the sky”, but how do you really manage the sheer volume of drones that would be needed to service a dense urban environment?