What We Really Think of Drones Delivering Mail

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Our visions of The Future always seem to include robots. There's a big difference between the likes of ​WALL-E​ and ​The Jetsons​ versus ​Terminator​, but whenever news drops of an unnerving new Boston Dynamics development, some of us may start looking nervously over our shoulders. The robots and high tech making headway into our lives tend to be a lot more ordinary, however, and we're actually pretty positive about them.

Researchers at Virginia Tech have just published some interesting survey results about how we really feel about drones delivering our mail. The 22,000 residents of Christianburg, Virginia, were among the first Americans to be served by Google-affiliated delivery drones during the holiday shopping season last year. Before populations actually experience drone deliveries of mail and packages, they tend to be pretty lukewarm about the idea — only about half say they approve of the idea. But in Christianburg, almost 9 out of 10 residents gave it the thumbs-up.

Only last fall, Amazon scored approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to widely offer drones among its many delivery options. Not every development of commercial drone technology is as straightforward or charming, though: Just look at Ring's Always Home Cam, a small indoor drone that may present a whole new world of privacy challenges.

Then again, in a year, this conversation may be moot. As Lee Vinsel, the Virginia Tech study's lead author, puts it, "Lots of factors influence how we feel about the technologies in our lives, but something scholars have found repeatedly over for the last 60 years is that familiarity breeds acceptance."