Drone and a doctor illustration

Who Invented Drones? From History to Evolution.

Estimated reading time: 17 minutes

When the word “drone” is mentioned, most people commonly picture modern weaponized military technology, yet this is an outdated perception.

In today’s world, drones serve different purposes ranging from security surveillance, photography, safety surveys to racing.

Who Invented Drone?

Drones are undoubtedly one of the outstanding technological inventions of our times. However, drones are not a recent invention.

You might be shocked to realize that the first UAV use goes back to 1783. When we talk about UAVs, hot air balloons are not included. Nonetheless, from a technical view, these were the initial aircraft to fly without a mortal pilot.

In July 1849, Austria was determined to be ingenious in Venice’s strike during the time of war.

This would highlight the first invasive airpower use in marine aviation where the Austrian soldiers applied a balloon conveyor in an aerial assault.

Around two hundred incendiary balloons were launched on that day, and more than one landed and exploded successfully in Venice.

Every balloon carried a load of 24-30 pound bombs that were to be dropped by a time fuse immediately over the city.

Unfortunately, the Austrian technology was scrappy, and the prevalent winds interfered with their works.

Also, sea breezes swayed most of the aerial bombs to a far-flung distance away from their targets, with some being carried back to the Austrian navy.

Due to this fiasco, other armies could not think of going to the skies this way because they feared bombing their owned territories. To this point, mark the premier of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Abraham Karem is the man referred to as the founding father of drone technology. He is the pathfinder in inventive fixed and rotary-wing UAVs. Born in Baghdad, Iraq the family relocated to Israel, where he came of age.

From his childhood, Abraham had a natural love for aeronautics, and when he was 14, he began assembling a prototype aircraft.

He pursued aeronautical engineering from the Technion and developed his initial drone during the Yom Kippur war for the Israeli air force.

Abraham moved to the US in the 1970s and established Leading Systems Incorporation, and constructed his first drone called the Albatross.

Later, he manufactured the more complicated Amber, which developed to become the celebrated Predator drone which gave him the crown of “drone father.”

Several people and magazines such as The Economist have described Kharem as the person who designed the robotic plane, which changed how contemporary warfare is carried out and continually pioneers different airborne innovations.

Simon K. contributed heavily to the modern drone’s invention by creating the electronic speed controller, making three-phase brushless motors possible.

These granted the power to weight ratio necessary for modern drones.

Abraham Karem, founder of drone technology
Abraham Karem is the founding father of drone technology

What Is a Drone?

As an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a drone is an aircraft that does not need an onboard pilot to operate. In other words, it is a pilotless plane that is guided by remote control.

Drone can also be steered automatically by using pre-programmed software. Drones can be broken down into two classifications: those driven by a human operator and autonomous ones.

A device to be referred to as a drone should weigh less than 20 Kg before adding fuel, including any extra attachments.

In the past, drones were majorly connected to the military, where they used them to gather intelligence, practice anti-aircraft targets, and as a weapon platform.

However, the use of these devices has evolved to include civilian roles such as monitoring traffic, firefighting, and weather monitoring.

Individuals and businesses are also using drones in agriculture to carry out deliveries, photography, and videography.

Drones have been developed to include some funky features. Most of them possess cameras which make it possible for you to see things from the drone’s view.

The Drone camera can record videos for different uses such as surveillance, like hobbies, and keep memories of flying adventures.

Drones also come with an in-built flight controller for stability. In the case of wind, this controller immediately modifies the propeller’s speed to maintain the level, which makes it easy for beginners to learn to fly.

Some drones have smart features that enable them to do amazing things like flying independently.

Credit: Mashable

Why Is It Called a Drone?

There is a high probability that unmanned aerial vehicles came to be known as drones earlier than you think.

UAVs were used during wars to act as targets for fighters and anti-aircraft guns, which had to have something to practice with.

These remote-controlled aircraft were known as remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs). However, their military developers and users gave up the name and settled for something a bit prosaic.

During the time, the word drone had two meanings: a male bee or a repetitive, maintained sound. The aircraft’s function is an extension of the “bee” meaning.

Drones are larger and bigger than bees which move out of the hive and swarm in the fall.

The male honeybees are well-known for having a mindless, driven existence. These bees do not gather honey, defend or maintain the hive, and their only purpose is to impregnate a queen bee.

The use of the word “drones” for the RPVs emphasizes the fact that they lack a mind of their own.

The word suits, as drones, could only function with the help of an operator who would control them from the ground or a “mother” plane. More so, the buzzing sound of an RPV is a good reminder of another flying buzzer.

The name drone was initially used on a UAV in 1946, but drone technology developments have made the word way more popular in recent years.

Despite missing a mind of their own, soon enough, it may be possible to connect them to yours, and you can control them by your brainwaves.

What Was Drone First Used For?

The first documented use of an unmanned aerial vehicle goes back to 22 August 1849 war fighting. During this, the UAV inform of a balloon carrier was used offensively in airpower by naval aviation.

Austrian forces surrounding Venice tried to fly some 200 balloon-carrying bombs that were to be dropped with a time fuse over Venice’s city.

The balloons were activated mostly from land, with some being launched from the ship. To discern the right fuse settings, the Austrians made use of smaller trial balloons.

One bomb fell in the city at the minimum, but due to the change in the wind after launch, most of the balloons missed their target, with some drifting back to Austria and the launching ship.

Black and White picture of first successful raid in history using ballons
First successful Air-raid in history

The first aircraft that did not require an onboard pilot was built during and shortly after World War 1.

From a proposal that Low’s proficiency in radio and television technology be used to make a remote-controlled pilotless aircraft to assault the Zeppelins, which was a commendable succession of small experimental aircraft.

In November 1917, an automatic plane was flown to the US army representatives.

Afterward, the army commissioned a project to assemble an” aerial torpedo,” which resulted in the Kettering Bug that flew in 1918.

Despite the Bug’s technology being a success, it was not available during the war, which had ended before it could be completely assembled and deployed.

Infographic about history and evolution of drones

Major Incidents Involving Drones in History or Evolution:

Drones have often been utilized in military operations. Civilian UAVs have been reported to cause harm to aircraft, property, or even people on the ground.

The safety concerns have been raised because of an ingested drone’s likelihood to disable an airplane engine, many near-misses rapidly, and confirmed collisions.

Some of these involve hobbyist drone operators who fly, violating aviation safety measures.

Some of the significant incidents involving drones include:

Battling the Escalation of Covid-19:

Drones have been beneficial in the fight against coronavirus. They have made it possible to have non-contact delivery and made it possible for healthcare givers to disseminate information to vast groups.

In the U.S., these devices have been delivering test kits to an individual’s doorsteps, getting rid of contact for those who think they might be infected.

Maintaining Road Safety by Facilitating Accident Reconstruction:

Chances of another road crash happening go up every minute the road is not cleared after the first took place. By using drones, police have significantly reduced the amount of time required to reconstruct an accident.

Montana’s highway patrol has a drone system situated in the area, which is used to collect data for reconstruction, and roads are cleared in the shortest time possible.

A drone flying over cars ib the hughway
Montana Highway Patrol using drones for investigation

Manage Water During Dry Seasons:

Thermal cameras installed on drones can locate leaks on water reservoirs for correction, ensuring that waste is minimized.

There is a unique California project that observes water conditions across different landscapes using drones with unique cameras that collect essential data.

The information gathered helps researchers forecast how specific hydrological changes and the pattern they might take in the future.

Helping During Storms and Hurricanes:

During the 2017 Houston hurricanes, drones were used to locate the survivors who needed rescue, evaluate the damage, assess the best routes to access the affected areas and collect data on the status of other areas the hurricanes would reach.

In North Carolina’s Hurricane Matthew, a drone spotted who had been trapped in his house, and the authorities could rescue him.

Drone flying over people sailing a kayak
Drones played a major role in rescuing people during Hurricane in Houston

Sustainability Mapping:

Countries with few resources are making use of low-cost drones to map projects. Zanzibar has such an initiative where they are creating a high-resolution map of Zanzibar and Pemba islands.

These maps will be used for improved planning and ecological monitoring to execute viable practices.

Preservation of Archaeological Sites:

Archaeological sites are in danger of going extinct. Drones are used to create 3D maps of crucial sites so that even if they fade, there will be an accurate replica that can be studied and be as documentation for generations to come.

Fighting Poaching:

A body known as the “Sea Shepherd Conservation Society” has been working tirelessly to stop poaching on the open oceans by using drones to nab the poachers.

A woman holding a drone so it can take off
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are using drones to stop poaching

Locating and Detonating Explosives:

Authorities are using a unique drone equipped with infrared sensors and a high-resolution camera.

This drone detects landmines from afar, and after the area has been cleared, drops a small bomb to dismantle the explosive safely.


Firefighters use drones to identify hotspots that are not visible to the human eye. By using aerial thermography, they can also identify likely fire victims who require immediate medical attention when a fire is still ongoing.

Delivering Medical Supplies to Remote Areas:

Medical drone delivery companies such as Zipline and Matternet deliver blood and other vital supplies to people in need but are in areas difficult to access due to terrain and poor infrastructure.

A fixed wing drone dropping off medicine
Zipline drones dropping off medicines

Forecasting Flash Floods:

In Alaska, weather researchers use drones to keep track of the fluctuations of ice and water levels in the close-by Suicide Basin to predict flash floods correctly.

Drone Crash Nearby the White House:

Despite the White House having its specific flight restrictions, a drone crash-landed on the lawn without being detected. Instantly after the incident, the White House went into lockdown.

However, the operator was not charged because it was determined that the device was beyond his control when it crashed.

Since the White House system could not detect the little drone, this raised the obvious question regarding the Secret Service’s ability to stop another drone of the same kind with sinister motives in the future. It came out that they could not.

Credit: KXAN

Drone Crash Landing on the Residence of the Japanese Prime Minister:

This incident was intentional, and the drone used was radioactive. The device was operated by an anti-nuclear rejectionist who had colored the white drone and its LEDs black with an enormous radiation sticker’s finish.

This is because it contained sand gotten from the Fukushima nuclear disaster site. The pilot intended to fly it in front of the Prime Minister’s office.

However, after losing control, it crashed on the roof, and it was not found until a week had elapsed.

ISIS Dropping Grenades Using Drones:

There are reports from Syria and Iraq, indicating that the terrorist group used commercial drones to release explosives.

Most of those drones were similar to major commercial drones but were modified in such a way that they could release grenades over targets to ravaging effects.

ISIS used UAVs to coordinate suicide bomb attacks. Also, they efficiently used them as observation tools to synchronize and correct indirect fire from mortars and rockets.

The group went ahead to encourage their devotees to organize the same attacks around the globe.

A soldier carrying DJI Phantom drone.
ISIS drone modified to drop small explosives like rifle grenades.

Drone Crash Into the Las Vegas Stadium, Causing Damage Worth $10,000:

The drone collided with a panel that was around 80-100ft from the ground. Security surveillance showed that the suspect was seen having a conversation with a guard at some point.

The guards revealed to the police that a man was asking to be given back his drone after being confiscated after the accident.

Man Flying a Drone Near Super Bowl In Florida:

Henry Alejandro was charged with violation of national defence airspace for flying a drone in a restricted area.

As part of the Super Bowl security plan, the Federal Aviation Administration gave a non-permanent flight restriction around the site where the match was planned to take place.

FBI’s agents spotted a drone flying nearby. Henry told the agents that he was a licensed drone pilot, and he knew of the restrictions.

However, he was operating the drone without an uninterrupted visual line of sight for the whole flight, a requirement by FAA regulations. Besides, he flew the drone over moving cars and people.

Illegal Immigrants Arrested After Drugs Were Found During an Operation:

These immigrants were conspiring with others who were already in police custody to distribute meth and heroin.

The authorities found out that a criminal organization had allegedly distributed not less than 80Kgs of meth from Mexico to San Antonio and different Texas areas.

The gang organized narcotics deliveries using smuggled cell phones into the facility through drones.

Drone carrying drugs
Mexican Drug Cartel Carries Out ‘Drone Strikes’ In Gang War

Drone “strike” on Angela Merkel:

During a campaign, a Parrot AR drone landed before the German chancellor. The drone’s pilot was a member of a German Pirate Party in protest of government monitoring.

Luckily, nobody got injured; however, this incident escalated worries over related experiences with drones carrying weapons.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel watching the drone landing before her
Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU, L) watches a drone with Federal Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière (R) during a pre-election event in Dresden, Germany, 15 September 2013.

Drone near-miss clash With Airbus A320:

A drone almost collided with an airplane as it was departing from London’s Heathrow Airport.

The Airbus A320 was at an average of 700ft when this occurred. After being assessed by the Civil Aviation Authority, this incident was termed a “serious risk of collision,” which is the top rating the body can accord.

How Dangerous Are Drones to Aircraft?

Drone Hurts Virginia Onlookers:

Spectators congregated at the Motorsport Park during a festival full of drinking, live music, and tomato fight.

During the celebration, drone recording videos fell into the stands, which left many people in attendance injured.

What had begun as a crazy vacation promo came to an end horrendously after a UAV rammed into a Brooklyn Daily photographer’s face, cutting her chin and chopping the edge of her nose.

Future of Drones:

Drones are quickly growing in popularity. These devices are still in the infant stage when it comes to usage and mass adoption.

The significant advantage is that they have broken down through taut conventional hindrances in industries that earlier appeared impassable by related technological inventions.

In the recent past, drones have become the center of different businesses and governmental corporations’ operations.

This way, the UAVs have managed to perforate through areas in which some industries were either inert or left behind.

So from speedy deliveries at rush hours to surveilling military bases, drone qualities have proved to be exceptionally beneficial in places beyond human reach or where man cannot perform efficiently or timely.

Some of the uses that drones offer to industries worldwide include enhanced work efficiency and productivity, reduced workload, production costs, better accuracy, upgraded customer relations, and settling security concerns.

Irrespective of whether drones are supervised through a smartphone app or remote, they can reach the most isolated areas with very little or no human input needed with a short amount of time, energy, and effort.

This is one of the most significant reasons for the adoption of drones worldwide.

Drones have penetrated the mainstream and are no longer a pie in the air.

Economically or recreationally, their uses have expanded as much as they have been accepted in product deliveries, racing, photography, and even agriculture; it is challenging to disregard the less fascinating applications.

Credit: Trent Siggard

However, drones have been used invasively, especially in policing, and this is crawling into everyday life in an unassuming way.

Most of us do not find this worrying, but some problems occur when technology is embraced unregulated. The passionate adoption of UAVs by civilians is comprehensible.

The majority of the industrial and recreational applications of drones are thrilling and have prospective. For example, using drones to plant trees in areas that bush fires have destroyed has a positive environmental impact.

Using drones for videography and photography also has benefits since we can see magnificent images of places and spaces unfamiliar to us.

Although, drones have crept into our daily lives with ease without consideration of the long-term effects. When we talk about privacy violations, our minds are a drone spying on us through the house windows.

The presence of drones in public changes the experience in that space in more invasive ways and affects things like the freedom of gathering.

Irrespective of the challenges drones pose, they are continually in the way people do business.

Global corporations such as Google and Amazon are trying ways to deliver packages using drones.

Facebook is also utilizing drones in the provision of internet connections in underdeveloped areas.

Even more impressive, there is a start-up that is using UAVs to deliver tacos to your house.

Happy Flying!

Who Invented Drones? From History to Evolution
Article Name
Who Invented Drones? From History to Evolution
Abraham Karem is known to be the father of drone technology. Here we talk about drone history and evolution, now and then
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Remoteflyer Private Limited.
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