Nikola Tesla’s Drone Patent in 1898

Nikola Tesla’s Drone Patent in 1898

The beloved inventor and scientist of the Internet, Nikola Tesla, had a lot of foresight in mind. One of the most unknown of these is about killer robots. Moreover, according to Tesla, these robots are not only killers. They are so deadly that the danger of using these robots is enough to bring peace.

According to the records, a patent found by technologist Matthew Schroyer and titled “The method and apparatus for the control mechanism of moving ships or vehicles” was granted to Tesla on November 8, 1898. For such a device to work, it must be wireless. Tesla, on the other hand, thought that the device would gain its energy from electrical waves.

Radio waves, not mentioned in the patent and discovered in the late 19th century, would shape an entire world of unmanned machines in the future. Tesla correctly guessed what it would take to steer the robots, but was wrong about their destructive potential. Nikola Tesla’s Drone Patent in 1898

The first drone made for war (or at least one of its closest predecessors) is known as the Kettering Bug. The device, which does not use a remote control, is instead preprogrammed to fly a certain distance (the device is also the ancestor of modern cruise missiles). This ‘insect’, which was built for World War I and resembles a mosquito, could not be put into operation because it was completed too late. It’s good that it did, because in the tests, it worked unreliable with the most optimistic view.

It took another century for the armed and remotely controlled machines to emerge. While much has been written and drawn about how drones will change warfare, there is actually a much older, more destructive technology that scares the superpowers from fighting each other: the atomic bomb, the vicious child of Oppenheimer, not Tesla.

Author: Kelsey D. Atherton/Popular Science.
Photo: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Nikola Tesla's Drone Patent in 1898

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