Public perceptions of drones remain a barrier to UK uptakes, says new research from PwC.

The study showed less than a third (31 per cent) of Brits felt positively about drones, while more than two thirds are concerned about the potential use of drones for criminal activity.

This contrasts with 56 per cent of business leaders who are positive about drones and their benefits. Including those already using drones in their business this rises to 83 per cent.

PwC’s latest research ‘Building trust in drones - the importance of education, accountability and reward’ - based on a survey of the public and business leaders on their attitudes towards drones and drone regulation - shows that business sees low public confidence in drone technology as a barrier to business development.

More than a third (35 per cent) of business leaders believe drones are not being adopted in their industry because of these negative perceptions, despite 43 per cent of those surveyed believing their industry would benefit from drone use.

“There are clear disparities in attitudes towards drones between business and the wider public,” said Elaine Whyte, UK drones leader at PwC.

“It is also strikingly clear that the potential of drone technologies is not fully understood. The drone community across industry, government and civil society needs to change the public discourse from one of uncertainties and toys, to one of opportunity and accountability.

“This can be achieved through better education on the wealth of use cases for drones, as well as increasing understanding of regulation and accountability.

“The public will only trust a new technology if they understand who is regulating and providing oversight.

“At PwC, we completed our first stock count audit last year using drones and our research has found that drones could add an additional £42bn to the UK economy by 2030. To really achieve these positive outcomes the drone community has much to do to educate wider society.”

Aviation Minister Baroness Vere added: “Drones could transform how we move people and goods around, boosting our economy and even saving lives.

“A drone used safely and responsibly is a great asset, which is why the Government is encouraging innovation and the development of technology in its forthcoming Aviation Strategy and Future Flight Challenge.”