New project: Societal acceptance of drones in urban Switzerland

Ever wondered about the societal acceptance of drones used in urban Switzerland? The DSI is launching a new research project on the topic of “Societal Acceptance of Drones in Urban Switzerland (SADUS)”, led by DSI researcher Dr. Ning Wang and in collaboration with partners across academia, industry, and public administration. The project is funded by the UZH Strategic Partnership Program, the UZH Digital Society Initiative, and the UZH Alumni Fund.

The deployment of high-impact technologies, such as drones, touches upon a number of ethical and societal issues, it is of paramount importance to establish a knowledge base on this topic. Currently, however, there is a lack of empirical knowledge on the prevailing perceptions about, and attitudes toward, urban use of drones, both in the mainstreamed public discourse and in the scientific community. This epistemological lacuna suggests a lack of awareness to the normative implications, where issues pertaining to access and equity, benefit sharing, harm and risk, consent, allocation of public resources, job loss, etc. may be overlooked. Further still, directly or indirectly, these issues have profound societal impacts on public policy setting and individual wellbeing. The increasing demands and high potentials of drones used in urban environments, hence, requires nuanced understandings about the technicalities of the technology, the ethical risks associated to it, the regulatory frameworks within which it operates, and ultimately the societal acceptability of its deployment at scale. In this project, DSI researchers aim to connect science with society and politics for a more resilient world through collaborations with domain experts as well as industry and government stakeholders. The pilot study will be led by Dr. Ning Wang, Research Fellow of the UZH Digital Society Initiative, in collaboration with Prof. Karl Blanchet, Director of the Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), across 15 months. Apart from the core research team, partnerships have also been established with key stakeholders, including academic institutions, industry members, public administration, regulatory authorities, special interest groups, and think-tanks.

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