A Brief History of the Progression of Drone Technology

May 23, 2018 9:22 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Today, drones are ubiquitous. It’s hard to believe that just a few short years ago, the idea of flying robots performing daily tasks, like package delivery, seemed like a pie-in-the-sky fantasy.

While many associate drones with modern-day digitalization and Silicon Valley’s relentless technological advances, unmanned aircraft actually predate much of today’s computerized technology. Drones are most likely the first type of autonomous vehicles used for both military and civilian purposes.

If you are planning on using drones for any application in the near future, including for aerial drone surveying in Mobile, AL, it’s useful to have a working knowledge of the history of these interesting aircraft. Understanding the rich history of drone usage can help you appreciate all of the exciting work performed by unmanned aircraft today.

Earliest unmanned aircraft

The first known use of an unmanned aircraft occurred in 1849, when the Austrian military used unmanned hot air balloons laden with explosives to attack the city of Venice.

The American military advanced the use of drone technology substantially during World War I. The military developed the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane, which was designed to deliver a single bomb to both aerial and ground targets. The plane, nicknamed the “flying bomb,” was controlled using gyroscopes. The Automatic Airplane’s mass-produced successor, called the Kettering Bug, wasn’t ready for use before WWI’s end.

Throughout the interwar years and the early days of World War II, the U.S. military experimented with the development of radio-controlled automatic airplanes. These remote-controlled airplanes were used for aerial attacks by both Allied and fascist forces.

Autonomy and surveillance

The first drone developed explicitly for surveillance came out of Israel in the 1970s. The Mastiff UAV and the IAA Scout were two unpiloted surveillance vehicles developed for use by the Israeli defense forces in the mid-‘70s.

Israel continued to change the landscape of the drone industry into the 1980s, thanks to its successful use of unmanned aircraft in its confrontation with Syria. Israel coordinated the use of its autonomous vehicles alongside its piloted aircraft, resulting in a resounding defeat of the Syrian armed forces. This led to a sea change in the way that governments and corporations alike viewed drone technology.

Modern era and civilian use

In the 1990s, it became possible to miniaturize drone technology, making it potentially useful in a wider range of applications outside of defense. Militaries around the world also continued to develop improved drone technologies, including the widely successful Predator drone program in the U.S.

With the rise of Silicon Valley tech empires in the 2010s, drones began to enter the civilian workforce. Today, companies across the world use drone technology for everything from package delivery to aerial land assessments.

Since 1972, Polysurveying has been a trusted provider of quick, accurate and dependable land assessments. We are proud to use the latest technology relating to aerial drone surveying in Mobile, AL. We strive to provide each and every one of our clients with high-quality land assessments that are consistently reliable and accurate. To learn more about our extensive range of services, reach out to one of our friendly representatives.

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