***Editor’s note: This blog is part of the “Drone Story of the Week” series. If you have an idea for a story, please email [email protected]***
Although unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are considered a prevailing product of our modern times, the origin of these ubiquitous machines can actually be traced back to famed Serbian inventor, Nikola Tesla, in the nineteenth century.
In 1898, Tesla was granted a U.S. patent for a “Method of and Apparatus for Controlling Mechanisms of Moving Vessels or Vehicles.”
The document specifies that these machines would operate autonomously, carrying “no intermediate wires, cables, or other form of electrical or mechanical connection with the object save the natural modia in space,” and could be moved by “producing waves, impulses, or radiations which are received through the earth, water, or atmosphere.”
To that, radio waves, first predicted in 1867, were being utilized in communications for the first time in the 1890s—a technology that Tesla described as “electrical oscillations which do not follow any particular conducting path, but propagate in straight lines through space.”
Interestingly, the patent goes on to include Tesla’s take on drone warfare—or rather, drone peace-keeping:
“But the greatest value of my invention will result from its effect upon warfare and armaments, for by reason of its certain and unlimited destructiveness it will tend to bring about and maintain permanent peace among nations.”
War or peace, it would take a long time for Tesla’s unmanned “vessels” to do either. The first drone built (though never used) specifically for warfare was the Kettering Bug, an unmanned aerial torpedo developed during World War I.
And while drones are utilized extensively by militaries today (see: The War on Terror), it is perhaps more accurate to say that it was the atomic bomb, and not Tesla’s invisibly propelled vessels, that would scare people into peace moving into the twentieth century.
Read last week’s story here: Dramatic Drone Footage Shows Catastrophic Flooding in Louisiana
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)