Consumer Concerns On Drones



Charles Dickens wrote in his famous novel Oliver Twist, “We cut over the fields at the back with him between us – straight as the crow flies – through hedge and ditch.” Little did he know that one day that crow could be a drone? That’s right. Drones are nothing new to our world. What’s new is that we will be seeing them flying in our communities here sooner than later. Some of us already are! Most of us are aware of their use for our military. But Amazon and UPS are pushing the envelope for that norm and have been for a while now. 

Aside from mail delivery, drones are employed in many other sectors. On The Bistro podcast, we had the pleasure of hosting the man who led the first organ transplant delivered by drone, Matt Scassero of the University of Maryland’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Test Site. Accompanying him was Miriam McNabb, Editor in Chief for DroneLife.com and CEO of Job for Drones. Miriam travels the world to speak as an expert in this industry. 

In this fascinating episode, we analyzed the industry from a consumer perspective. Our discussion included emerging trends, consumer concerns and misperceptions, and our favorite – regulation.

More than any other aviation technology to date, drones tie in a whole host of factors when it comes to what is needed to get that crow off the ground. Side note, the applications of use are endless. Expect to see this gadget used in construction, natural disaster relief, law enforcement, surveying, medical service, search and rescue, firefighting, and even conservation efforts! What our world will accomplish using drones will be pretty impressive. 

The one lagging factor that could use a kick in the rump is consumer awareness and education. Just as people were hesitant to jump on the smartphone bandwagon, people are reluctant about drones. Civilian concerns center on safety and privacy. 

Miriam and Matt believe this points back to an “image problem.” People have common misperceptions about what exactly a drone is doing when it’s buzzing around their neighborhood skies. Many assume the drone is collecting data on them, when in fact, it’s conducting a construction survey. Miriam and Matt trust this is an easily fixable issue, however. The industry is already working to solve the PR image of drones through public conversation.

One of the first ways drones will win consumer approval is through medical service delivery. Matt was the first to help pioneer this medical marvel in the United States. “The incredible opportunity for impact makes it easy for people to say yes,” stated Matt. We are already witnessing drones’ impact in Africa, where the leading cause of death is women in childbirth. Zipline has been able to save 26,773 lives with its drone delivery services there. As this industry continues to prove its usefulness, expect to see regulation emerge.

There have been discussions around how this tailoring of regulation will occur between the Federal Aviation Association and other regulatory bodies. Conveniently, we will be able to apply current aviation regulations to the UAV industry. Miriam points to the need for global cooperation and the establishment of the same standards to avoid complications, similar to how we conduct international flights. In these efforts, we will be able to achieve streamlined guidelines. 

Get the full picture of what consumers can expect from drones on this episode and hear more insights on the regulation, safety, and privacy impacts of this revolutionary technology.