I've been working with the Swiss Humanitarian Organization FSD on a number of Humanitarian UAV Research Projects since 2015. The results of one of these projects is finally public: The Drones in Humanitarian Actions Survey, funded by EU Humanitarian Aid. The purpose of this survey was to take a closer look at how humanitarian professionals view the use of aerial robotics or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The survey asked aid workers working in different clusters what they think about the use of UAVs in different situations. Close to 200 disaster responders working across 61 different countries took part in this unique survey.
The results show that the majority of such professionals (60%) believe that UAVs can have a positive impact in disaster response operations, and that only a quarter (22%) view their use negatively in the wake of a disaster. But almost all humanitarian professionals surveyed (87%) said that they did not have first-hand knowledge of using UAVs, which is striking. When asked about the use of UAVs in armed conflict settings, 40% of the respondents believed UAVs should never be used in these situations, while 41% said they would consider using UAVs even in such cases.
Another interesting result was that a majority of those surveyed (57%) believed that local populations feel threatened by UAVs, even in non-conflict settings. But again 87% of those surveyed did not have first-hand knowledge of using UAVs. What’s more, this perception is not backed up by the field experience of WeRobotics, Humanitarian UAV Network, Drone Adventures, World Bank, International Organization for Migration (IOM) and FSD, to name just a few organizations that have actually used UAVs operationally in multiple countries worldwide.
Hopefully our continuing work at WeRobotics and our continued use of the Humanitarian UAV Code of Conduct will change such the results of future surveys for the better as we aim to educate more humanitarians on the safe, effective and ethical use of UAVs across the world. If you wish to read the full report and survey results, you can download it here