Not everyone wants consumer deliveries from above permitted in their communities

SAINT LEO, FL – Just about everybody understands what a drone is, but a new survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( shows the public is divided in its thinking about whether civilian drones would make great package-delivery vehicles or are nuisances that should be banned.

The latest poll from the Saint Leo University Institute was conducted online among 1,001 adults nationally from November 27 through November 30, 2016. A parallel survey of 501 adults was conducted in Florida, where the weather is better for flying drones during more months of the year.

More than 8 in 10 respondents, 84 percent, agreed this year that they were either very aware of or somewhat aware of unmanned aerial vehicles, more popularly known as drones. That was up slightly from 78.4 percent last year, when the institute first polled on drones as they became widely available for sale to consumers for personal interest and to businesses for use in surveying and marketing properties, mapping, and advertising. Law enforcement agencies have also been using drones for traffic and road accident observation as well as search-and-rescue operations.

As the public has grown more familiar with drones, and perhaps more aware of Federal Aviation Administration safety regulations governing their use, some things changed from 2015 to 2016. Last year, 73.1 percent of respondents nationally were either very concerned or somewhat concerned about the presence of drones in airspace. This year, that declined somewhat, to 65.6 percent—still a significant level. Often-reported reasons for concern this year were potentially dangerous interference with airplanes (70 percent) and personal privacy issues (71.5 percent).

The public indicated it likes drones for some uses in society. There is high support for use by community police departments (72 percent combined strongly or somewhat agreeing with the practice), in warfare (86.3 percent combined agreement), and as a military alternative to deployment of ground troops (69.1 percent combined agreement).

How much is too much?

More than one-third of respondents, 36.8 percent, see drones having potential benefits to consumer society. They agreed either strongly (12 percent) or somewhat (24.8 percent) with the statement: “I would be open to receiving deliveries by drone from such companies as Amazon or Wal Mart.” Nearly half, 47.9 percent, either strongly or somewhat disagreed with the statement, though. Another 15.3 percent were unsure.

The survey also found that 43.4 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that they would support a municipal ban on drones within their own communities. Basically the same proportion, 41.1 percent would not support a drone ban, and 15.5 percent were unsure.

The varying sentiments make for a stalemate in the public sphere, observed Dr. Leo Ondrovic, a member of the Saint Leo University science faculty and a licensed pilot. “You can’t want to ban them, and also want to fly them or have them deliver packages!”

Personal-use market

Ondrovic noted that 21.8 percent of respondents nationally said that they are very or somewhat interested in owning a drone. The most frequently occurring reason for the appeal is that having a drone looks like a fun hobby to those people interested at 87.6 percent. That far outstripped other possible reasons such as wanting to see an aerial view of one’s own property (33.3 percent) or having a security reason (20.5 percent).

While the reported ownership interest is down from last year’s level of 35.1 percent, retailers of all kinds have been marketing drones heavily this year. And the survey found 9.7 percent of respondents either have purchased a drone this holiday season, or probably will do so.

The percent of people who already have purchased a drone was low at only 3.5 percent (slightly higher in Florida at 5 percent). Among that small group, though, 73.5 percent nationally and a similar level in Florida said either they have already taken a course in flying a drone or are willing to do so.

“The responses suggest that drone operators are serious about obeying the FAA regulations, and presumably about preserving their investment in the drone,” Ondrovic said. “There are technical and legal aspects that must be considered. But the public should know the mentality of average drone operators is pretty serious. It’s not just, ‘Unbox it and fly it.’ ’’

For more findings on Americans attitudes toward drones, see the full report at And for more on federal regulations concerning drones, visit:

Media contacts: Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text).  Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-7118 or (813) 610-8416 (cell/text).

More About Our Research

METHODOLOGY: All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The national poll of 1,001 adults was conducted from November 27 through November 30, 2016 and has a plus or minus 3.0 percent margin of error. A sample of 501 adults in Florida were also surveyed from November 27 through November 30, 2016. The findings from the Florida survey have a plus or minus 4.5 percent margin of error.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can be found here: You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University ( is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever our students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. We welcome people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourage learners of all generations. We are committed to providing educational opportunities to our nation’s armed forces, our veterans, and their families. We are regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and we guide all our students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

We remain the faithful stewards of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where our founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving nearly 15,000 students, we have expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintain a physical presence in seven states. We provide highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 82,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.