The majority of Americans support the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for search and rescue and border patrol missions, but also have privacy concerns with the use of UAS by local and federal law enforcement agencies, according to a poll conducted by Monmouth University.
While 83 percent of the respondents support using UAS for search and rescue, and 62 percent for border patrol, 49 percent said they were "very concerned" about their privacy if U.S. law enforcement agencies begin using the aircraft for surveillance.
The poll results were similar to the same poll conducted by Monmouth last year, according to Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. The 69 percent of respondents who expressed "some concern" over privacy is slightly higher than the 64 percent who felt the same way a year ago.
There is a government-industry effort to address privacy concerns over domestic use of UAS. The Senate's 2014 transportation bill
includes a provision that requires Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to submit a detailed report on the privacy impact of the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS), prior to allowing FAA to issue final regulations on the use of UAS within civil airspace.
Despite the privacy concerns, AUVSI President Michael Toscano was encouraged by the Monmouth poll results showing support for using UAS in search and rescue missions.
"UAS have the potential to help in search and rescue missions by covering more ground and keep police officers safe by providing an eye in the sky in dangerous situations. They do all of this at a fraction of the cost of manned aircraft, helping to save time, save money and, most importantly, save lives. We as an industry are committed to the safe and responsible integration of UAS into the national airspace, and it is exciting to see public support behind the uses of this technology," said Toscano.
Monmouth's poll comes after a recent poll conducted by the Institute for Homeland Security Solutions and RTI International showing that 88 percent of the general public supports UAS for search and rescue missions.
Related: Unmanned Systems News