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April 22, 2021

How does the public feel about drone delivery?

  • , By the numbers
  • , Drone delivery
  • , Report
  • , United States


Pretty great, if they’ve experienced it.

Pollsters have asked the public in the U.S. and Europe for their attitudes toward drone delivery a number of times in the past ten years. While the results of the surveys vary--support for drone delivery ranging from 23%1 to 50%2 -- all of them have one thing in common: they were conducted among respondents who had never seen, much less received, anything delivered by a drone. Today, researchers at Virginia Tech published the results of the first survey conducted among residents in a city with an active drone delivery service, and the results are quite interesting.

Virginia Tech conducted its survey among residents of Christiansburg, Virginia, a community of just over 20,000, where Wing has operated a residential drone delivery service five days a week since October 2019. According to Virginia Tech’s survey of over 800 residents, 87% of respondents have positive sentiments about drone delivery; 89% report that they would likely use the service if it were available; and 87% say they view drone delivery equally or more favorably than other drone applications. The survey was reviewed and approved by the Virginia Tech’s Institutional Review Board, and the findings were published today in the spring issue of Issues in Science and Technology.

The findings echo the growing popularity of drone delivery worldwide. Across the four cities on three continents serviced by Wing, deliveries in 2020 increased by 500% over 2019. While that growth was spurred in part by stay-at-home restrictions resulting from COVID, the use of Wing’s delivery services remained well above pre-COVID levels in all markets even as restrictions were eased. Most strikingly, in markets where there are no current restrictions, such as Australia, the use of Wing’s service has continued to increase. The use of Wing’s service in Australia, and worldwide, increased more than 5X in the first three months of 2021 compared to the same period a year ago. 

Drone delivery’s popularity is rooted in its myriad benefits. It helps alleviate some of the more negative consequences of last-mile delivery on the ground--reducing congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, and traffic accidents--while giving local businesses a faster, more convenient way to reach customers. While public perception of new technology often improves with familiarity, Virginia Tech’s findings are particularly significant for drone delivery. Regulators around the world are working with operators to approve further expansion, and public support is very important to those efforts. Watch this (air)space. 

1 “Public Perceptions: Drones.” Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 2019. (United Kingdom)
2 “Autonomous Delivery Systems: Consumer Awareness & Favorability Study.” Consumer Technology Association, May 2020.