Credit Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for bringing drones into the public consciousness with his December 13, 2013, 60 Minutes interview. In what many skeptics viewed as a masterful piece of marketing, he predicted that in the next 5 years, drones would further revolutionize the online retail industry. Suddenly, drones were on the national radar screen, even though only a few test models were actually flying.
Since then, we’ve seen a flurry of activity among logistics organizations, drone manufacturers, and postal operators in countries such as Switzerland, Singapore, and Australia, all exploring how to use drones for delivery.
But where do everyday people stand on drone delivery? Do they like the idea of packages delivered to their doorstep by a flying robot, or does the idea unsettle them? And what if the U.S. Postal Service were to deliver packages using drones?
Tracking the public’s ever-changing perception of this new mode of delivery could be essential to shaping the Postal Service’s strategy. While drone technology is maturing and the regulatory framework still emerging, a proactive examination of drone delivery should help the Postal Service better assess the operational feasibility, fundamental economics, regulatory compliance, and social implications.
To that end, we administered a national survey to assess the public’s view of drones: their overall appeal; their most- and least-interesting applications; the believability of claims about benefits; potential concerns; and the perception if drone delivery were offered by five prominent players in the logistics and technology fields.
Some interesting findings emerged from the survey results:
- The American public anticipates that drone delivery will be offered within the next 5 to 10 years.
- More Americans like the concept of drone delivery than dislike it, but a large number have yet to decide.
- Malfunction is the public’s primary concern about drone delivery — far more than fears about intentional misuse.
- Exposure to information about drone delivery correlates with greater interest in the idea.
When – if ever – do you think drone delivery might be offered? What do you think of the idea of drone delivery? What benefits would you anticipate? What concerns do you have?