Eric Cameron

Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

John Bridewell


Unmanned aircraft have been around since before the Wright brothers took flight in 1903. Even though unmanned aircraft have had a history that well exceeds the century of manned aviation, they were primarily used by the military, and were mostly outside the public's purview. In recent years unmanned aircraft have made a giant leap from military use to commercial use within the United States and around the world. While pilots and operators flying these aircraft may have accepted the technology and its future potential; the public might have a different point of view on utilization over their home, town, state, or country. Numerous articles suggest that the public of the United States has a long history of determining which technologies will be readily accepted, slowly adopted, or fail before becoming commonplace. This thesis examines important issues regarding public perception of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), their use in the United States, where they fly, and, specifically, their use in a law enforcement setting.

The study found that the public has a lower acceptance rate for unmanned aircraft than manned aircraft. Public perception of unmanned aircraft may create obstacles for the usage of this technology for law enforcement purposes.