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 An overwhelming majority of Americans support the use of unmanned aircraft for homeland11315797_s security, search and rescue, and fighting crime, according to a new poll released today. The study, conducted by Institute for Homeland Security Solutions and RTI International, shows that the majority of the general public supports the use of unmanned aircraft in the United States for a wide array of uses.

 According to the national study, 57 percent of the general public supports the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for any application. When asked about specific uses of the technology, support was significantly higher, with 88 percent of respondents supporting UAS for search and rescue operations. In addition, two-thirds of Americans support their use in homeland security missions.

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The study of 2,000 respondents, conducted in March 2013, gauged perceptions about unmanned aircraft in the U.S. Additional findings :

•      88 percent of the general public supports their use in search and rescue operations

•     67 percent support their use in homeland security missions

•    63 percent support their use in fighting crime

•   61 percent support their use in commercial applications

“The tremendous support that Americans have for the use of unmanned aircraft systems in the U.S. underscores the public’s understanding of the widespread benefits,” said Michael Toscano, president & CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). “Unmanned aircraft have the potential to be beneficial in a wide range of applications, from helping to search for lost children and missing hikers to helping homeland security keep our borders safe. This public support shows the importance of safely integrating UAS into the national airspace in a timely manner.”

UAS can be invaluable for law enforcement and border patrol agents, aiding search and rescue missions, pursuing fugitives on the loose or offering a critical vantage point when responding to a hostage situation. In February 2013, a UAS was used by law enforcement responding to a hostage situation in Alabama.

The poll is part of an RTI research program to better understand the social, behavioral and policy implications of this new technology. Two pilot studies were designed: one to gauge public perceptions and awareness of unmanned aircraft systems, and another to assess law enforcement concerns.

Toscano continued, “Unmanned aircraft increase human potential, allowing us to execute dangerous or difficult tasks safely and efficiently. Whether it is helping first responders, advancing scientific research, or making business more efficient, UAS are capable of saving time, saving money and most importantly, saving lives.”