The societal impact of commercial drones

Bharat Rao, Ashwin Goutham Gopi, Romana Maione

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in commercial applications has the potential to dramatically alter several industries, and, in the process, change our attitudes and behaviors regarding their impact on our daily lives. The emergence of drones challenges traditional notions of safety, security, privacy, ownership, liability, and regulation. With their ability to collect data and transport loads, drones are re-shaping the way we think and feel about our physical environment. However, they also burdened with the perception as being surveillance equipment, and their commercial use has been criticizied by both individuals and activist organizations. In parallel, drones have been legitimized by regulations and licenses from federal agencies, are used by companies for surveying, inspecting, and imaging, and their technological development are driven by active communities of hobbyists and enthusiasts. This tension presents unique challenges to their integration in the currently existing public, governmental and private infrastructure. In this paper, we will take a look at a few of these issues to understand how drones influence society, and present reccomendations for practitioners, policy makers, and reseachers studying this phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-90
Number of pages8
JournalTechnology in Society
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Business models
  • Commercial drones
  • Drones
  • Privacy
  • Security
  • UAVs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Business and International Management
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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