The History of the Drone

Jun 26, 2015 | All About Drones


Did you think that drones were a brand new invention, only now coming on the scene? You would be wrong to believe this and for many reasons. Unmanned aerial vehicles, called UAV, are aircraft that do not have people on board but still have the capability of achieving various goals. You could say the first drones were Austrian balloons that were used in 1849 in warfare to attack the city of Venice. The balloons carried explosives in them. Whether for military needs or for non-combat missions, there are many ways in which drones have grown and developed over the years.

Military Use Is Prominent

The first major use of drones was in the military. They were used during World War I using radio control techniques and they were called “flying bombs” at the time. These were not your typical drone, though, because they were the precursors to today’s cruise missile. In 1917, the US Army allowed representatives to try out an Automatic Airplane. After the war, these were modified to become more focused on being more drone-like and less missile like.

After the war, a man named Reginald Denny, who was in the British Royal Flying Corps, brought the idea of the drone to the U.S. He worked on his radio controlled planes as a side job while staring in various Hollywood films. He developed the target drone.

Drones were used in the Cold War heavily. They were useful in numerous secret projects on both sides of the war. They were used in reconnaissance in the Vietnam War. They were used in nuclear testing.  They were also used after the war to assess damage and to aid in communication. Drones continue to be used in various applications and would be used in virtually all wars from this time forward.

Over time, these drones would further develop, mostly in the military. They have been created to be very small, used to handle experiments, equipped with video cameras, designed with solar panels and modified in various other ways. Drones have been used as a way to spy, kill, monitor, and take video in all types of environments. This has helped these devices to become more powerful and useful than ever.

Domestic Use of Drones

While drones were heavily used (and continue to be used) in the military, they are also used domestically. The US Customs and Border Protection agency have used these tools to capture or prevent thousands of people from crossing the board. They have been used by the FAA to help search for survivors after disasters.

Drones have played an important role in the history of the military and warfare, but also for many domestic needs. Today they are more readily available to the average consumer as well as businesses. This is helping the devices to be more functionally beneficial than ever. Now, people can use them in various applications from saving people’s lives to delivering packages faster or recording weddings. This versatility will only improve as time goes on.