The History of Drones

Drones have recently gained prominence across industries ever since its mass production, but the history of drones could be traced back to as long as a hundred years.

Crude drones were used in World War I. In 1849, invading Austria devised a plan to bomb Venice using balloons that carried explosives. 50 years later, the United States' military had some form of a kite that had cameras. Its primary work? To capture aerial shots of enemy sites and territories. During the same year, renowned inventor Nikola Tesla had a brilliant idea for using a breakthrough remote control system for a number of practical applications. The scientist filed for a patent that was called the "Method of Apparatus for Control Mechanism of Vessels and Moving Vehicles" in 1898. Tesla did a demonstration that drew a large crowd in the Madison Square Garden when he used a small device to control a toy boat.

In 1916, the first UAV was created and called the Aerial Target. Its primary mission during the time was to fire on enemy zeppelins, but for some reason the drone wasn't able to enter the theater of war. But this sparked the global interest for drones and unmanned aerial vehicles in general. Drones started appearing in droves.

Inventors tinkered with how they could improve the drone further. A torpedo-type drone called the Kettering Bug flew to the skies in 1917. The Royal Navy developed a drone during 1927 to 1929. Great Britain had its own version of the drone in 1931 called the Fairey Queen. Not long after, its predecessor, the "Queen Bee" took flight in 1935. The US Navy developed their drones to be controlled via radio wave technology.

The US Navy Research is the group responsible for coining the word "drone" in a test where they described the radio wave-controlled UAVs in 1936. The name stuck and UAVs have been called as such ever since!

In World War II, drones were deployed in numbers when the military realized that they could avoid pilot casualties and use the smaller aircrafts for more versatile missions. The unmanned vehicles assisted with aerial attacks and in guiding anti-aircraft missiles. Near the end of the war, drones such as the Teledyne Ryan Firebee and the Model 1001 were being fitted in with powerful jet engines.

Drone technology grew and grew during the 80s to the 90s. Primarily, drones were being used in military applications. In 1991, drones were launched to participate in the Persian Gulf War. The reasoning behind this was that the unmanned vehicles were cheaper and more capable than their jet counterparts. The General Atomics MQ-1, a drone outfitted with Hellfire missiles was the dominant vehicle during the war. The Predator was its spiritual successor. You may know the Predator as the drone that was used to hunt Osama Bin Laden. During the years 2005 to 2006, the Predator carried out more than 2000 missions.

Fast forward to today, and we're using drones for businesses and for leisure. The world of drones continue to grow even further with technological advancements such as the GPS and 4K cameras! Click here to learn more about the history of drones.