Drones for parcel and passenger transport: A qualitative exploration of public acceptance

Keywords: drones; logistics; transport; urban air mobility; qualitative research


Civil and commercial drones are on the verge of becoming a key technology of future everyday life. Stimulated by recent technological progress and increasing regulatory clarity especially larger cities are anticipated to use drones for parcel and passenger transport hoping to relieve congested inner city traffic. Despite it is first and foremost the urban population that would be affected by accessing lower airspace, only few studies addressed the public perception of using transport drones. Aiming to fill the gap of attitudinal and acceptance research in the context of drones, the article embraces the subject by presenting qualitative results of a series of five focus groups conducted in three German cities. The analysis of discussions shows that participants were largely ambivalent towards the use of drones, putting special emphasis on a variety of object-related factors (safety and security, sustainability, usefulness), subject-related factors (general perception of technology) and also context-related factors (potential societal implications of drone technology). Framed by a discussion of identified acceptance factors in the context of the present scientific debate and assessing drones’ potential social implications the article provides a profound qualitative exploration into one of the most disruptive and controversial future technologies that may transform both the transport world and urban societies.



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