Drones in the US

Drones have become more common - as of mid-2017, 59% of Americans have seen a drone, and 8% state that they own one. Yet the debate of allowing such pilotless devices remain. A recent Pew Research survey shows that while there isn’t much of a gender or age gap within drone ownership, Americans differ on how they would react to the sight of a drone and about regulations surrounding them. A majority of Americans stated that if they saw a drone, they would feel curious (58%), and interested (45%). Other responses among this survey included nervous (26%), excited (15%), and angry (12%).

Opinions also vary on where drones should be allowed to be used. A significant number of Americans do not firmly believe in a strict set of rules on whether people should be able to fly drones in various locations. However, a slight majority thinks drones shouldn’t be allowed to fly near private homes. A plurality (45%) think that private citizens should not be allowed to pilot drones near public events like concerts and rallies, while more are accepting of use in more public places like beaches or parks.

Older Americans seem to have substantially negative and less permissive views than younger adults. This study also found that while 73% of Americans 65 and older think that private citizens should not be allowed to fly drones near people’s private homes, only 37% of Americans ages 18 to 29 think the same.

The government has also concluded that there are increasing amounts of drone use in the US. By tracking drone sightings in unauthorized areas, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has found that many drones have not been registered, because they weigh less than the amount required for drone registration, 0.55 pounds. Further analysis of the FAA data reports by the Pew Research Center has found that through the first nine months of 2017, the FAA found 155 reports of unmanned aircraft sightings in unauthorized areas -- a 24% increase from 2016, and a 86% increase from 2015.
Sophia Kim


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