Of his company’s highly-anticipated, still-under-development package delivery system, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said, “Look, this thing can’t land on somebody’s head while they’re walking around their neighborhood.” He is referring to drones, the same unmanned aerial vehicles used in war, controversial tools of surveillance, and more recently, agents of research and disaster relief.
Given the wide variety of uses for drones, it is perhaps not surprising that Americans are divided on their feelings about the technology. According to the latest Reason-Rupe poll, 45 percent of Americans say Amazon’s planned use of drones for package delivery makes them think more positively about the future, while 44 percent say the idea makes them think more negatively about the future. Nine percent said the concept doesn’t make them think one way or the other about the future.
Traditional political party affiliation does not impact public opinion on this topic, though political philosophy does play a role, with self-labeled libertarians and progressives feeling most optimistic about this technology. Sixty percent of libertarians and 59 percent of progressives say drone-delivery makes them think more positively about the future, compared to 49 percent of self-labeled liberals, 43 percent of moderates, and 39 percent of conservatives. Fifty percent of tea party supporters are also optimistic, while 43 percent are not.
Americans’ thoughts about the use of drones for package delivery is highly correlated with age, as younger people feel more positively about the technology than do older Americans. Fifty-nine percent of those under 35, including 68 percent of people 18-24, say Amazon’s idea makes them think more positively about the future, compared to 44 percent of 35-54 year olds and just 34 percent of Americans ages 55 and over who agree.
Men are 13 points more likely than women to report that the idea of this new use of technology makes them feel positively about the future.
Nationwide telephone poll conducted Dec 4-8 2013 interviewed 1011 adults on both mobile (506) and landline (505) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.7%. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe survey. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results, detailed tables, and methodology found here. Sign up for notifications of new releases of the Reason-Rupe poll here.