A review article, “Public perception of advanced aviation technologies: A review and roadmap to acceptance,” published in the prestigious journal Progress in Aerospace Sciences examines the advancements made toward the adoption of advanced aviation technologies such as drones and air taxis. The review, authored by Dr. Nick Tepylo, Dr. Anna Straubinger (ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research), and Professor Jeremy Laliberté, is only the fourth article published in the journal by a Canadian-led team since 2018. With the increasing popularity of drones among the public, the topic of public perception about them has come to the attention of both industry and government. This article quantifies trends in recent studies and provides a critical analysis of drone applications that are more favourable to the public. The authors also explore how the support for air taxis has grown over time and current estimates suggest that nearly half of individuals would be willing to fly on one of these vehicles.
Since completing his Ph.D. at Carleton in 2021, Dr. Tepylo’s research has focused on the public perception of drones and how these platforms can be better integrated into society. As a pilot and aircraft systems engineer, Dr. Tepylo is both cautious and optimistic about the future uses of these technologies and how the current air traffic management system will accommodate these vehicles. While most new technologies are adopted due to their perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use, the integration of air taxis will be based primarily on society’s trust in the technology. That trust will take time to develop and will require members of the public to experience the safe operation of autonomous air or ground vehicles in one form or another.
In 2022, Dr. Tepylo led a study on the level of acceptance of drones in Canada and found that the results are similar to other Western countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, but fall behind technology-based economies such as Singapore. Drone missions for the public good, such as search and rescue, climate monitoring, and firefighting, receive the highest levels of support, while applications that benefit corporations, such as newsgathering and package delivery, are viewed the least favourably. Privacy is the number one concern of the public, and Tepylo and Laliberte have begun a new project looking at how drones have the potential to invade one’s privacy and implementing a privacy-by-design framework to mitigate the risk of a data breach. Professor Jeremy Laliberté leads a research group of 22 research personnel at Carleton University, primarily focused on the innovative use of drones and advanced air mobility. He also serves on Transport Canada’s Canadian Drone Advisory Committee (CanaDAC) and is an associate editor of the Drone Systems and Applications journal.
Tepylo and Laliberté partnered with Dr. Anna Straubinger, a transport economist at the ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim, Germany. She is an internationally recognized expert on the economics of urban air mobility, specifically on use cases, sustainability, and influences of urban air mobility on citizens and the urban fabric. Together, the team discussed the current state of public perception and presented a roadmap that both industry and governments can take to ensure the successful adoption of advanced aviation technologies.
The full publication can be found here: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1gn7C1LW8XANbR.
A few weeks later, Tepylo and Laliberté received news that another paper they authored, “Public perception of remotely piloted aircraft systems in Canada“, this time with Co-op student Leilah Debelle would be published in the journal Technology in Society. This article explores the public perception of drones in Canada and is the first major study of its kind in Canada since 2014. The authors performed a nation-wide survey and found that Canadians are more supportive of drones now than ever before. With their increase in popularity as a consumer product, the term “drone” is viewed more favourably than others, such as “unmanned aerial vehicle.” Surprisingly, the study found that older individuals are more supportive of drones when their use case is explained in comparison with younger individuals. This finding and others described in the article suggest that educating the public is the key to widespread acceptance of such technologies.
To read about all of the findings from their study, the full article is available here: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1gvZt,3f%7EsQYoT