Drones: A Brief History

Drone flying over a field

Drones are unmanned aircraft that are operated remotely by pilots. They are typically used for surveillance and reconnaissance missions, but can also be equipped with weapons and used for combat. Drones come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can be outfitted with a wide range of sensors and other equipment. The U.S. has used drones to target and kill thousands of suspected militants and terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. The use of armed drones by the U.S., however, has sparked debate over whether they are an effective tool or amount to assassinations that violate international law. In 2012, the FAA was directed to draft rules for the use of drones by non-military agencies. The agency is expected to release its proposed rules for public comment in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Congress has directed the FAA to allow drones to be used by law enforcement agencies.

Early history: kites and balloons

Drones have been around in some form or another for centuries. The early history of drones can be traced back to kites and balloons.

Kites were first used for military purposes in ancient China, where they were used to send messages and relay information. In the 18th century, the Chinese also used kites to lift men into the air for reconnaissance missions.

Balloons were first used for military purposes during the French Revolution, when they were used to drop leaflets behind enemy lines. In the 19th century, balloons were used extensively in the American Civil War for observation purposes.

The first military drones: World War I

The first military drones were used during World War I. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were used to drop bombs on targets. The first UAV was developed by the Austrians in 1915. The German Army also used UAVs in 1915.

Modern drones: from the Cold War to today

For anyone who has followed the news over the past few years, it’s clear that drones are playing an increasingly important role in both military and civilian life. But how did these unmanned aerial vehicles come to be?

Most people trace the origins of drones back to the Cold War era, when both the United States and the Soviet Union were experimenting with pilotless aircraft. In fact, the first known use of a drone was in 1849, when Austrians used hot air balloons carrying explosives to attack Venice.

However, it wasn’t until World War II that drones really started to be used in combat. The British used them for target practice, while the Germans employed them in a series of unsuccessful bombing raids on England. After the war, both the U.S. and Soviet Union continued to develop drone technology, using them for reconnaissance missions during the Cold War.

The future of drones

As technology advances, so too does the potential for drone usage. Once relegated to military and surveillance applications, drones are now being used for a variety of purposes, from delivering packages to taking aerial photos and videos. The future of drones looks even more promising, with new and innovative uses for these unmanned vehicles being developed all the time.

One area where drones are sure to have a big impact is in the delivery of goods. Companies like Amazon and UPS are already testing out drone delivery systems, and it’s not hard to see why. Drones can reach places that traditional delivery methods cannot, and they can do so quickly and efficiently. In the future, we may see drones becoming the primary means of package delivery, especially in urban areas.

Another area where drones are likely to have a major impact is in search and rescue operations. Search and rescue teams already use drones to locate missing or stranded persons, but in the future these devices could become even more sophisticated. They might be able to land safely on a person’s roof, lower a basket, and transport that person back to safety.