This Is What Nikola Tesla Had Predicted About The Use Of Drones In Warfare

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10:00 am 7 Nov, 2017


An inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist and futurist, Nikola Tesla, is best known for his contribution in the composition of alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. Besides this significant contribution to science, the inventor, who was much ahead of his time, had predicted smartphones, television and drones, which he believed could lead humanity to destruction.

Tesla was granted a patent on November 8, 1898 in which he wrote that his creation did not require any wires or electrical conductors. The patent titled “Method Of And Apparatus For Controlling Mechanism of Moving Vessels or Vehicles” was recently highlighted on the internet by technologist Matthew Schroyer by posting excerpts and a scan of the patent on Twitter.


Portrait of Nikola Tesla

Here is the tweet by Matthew Schroyer:

In his patent, Tesla had written that he had invented a way to move “vessels” by “producing waves, impulses, or radiations which are received through the earth, water, or atmosphere” and that these waves, impulses or radiations reach the object till it “remains within the active region or effective range.”

This clearly implies that he was referring to radio waves. These were first predicted in 1867 but were first used for communication only in 1890s. Hence, they were quite a new concept at the time patent was granted to him. He had illustrated these waves as “electrical oscillations which do not follow any particular conducting-path, but propagate in straight lines through space.”


The design of drone created by Nikola Tesla United States Patent and Trademark Office

In the scan of Tesla’s patent shared by technologist Matthew Schroyer on Twitter, it is written that unmanned vehicles will tend to bring permanent peace among nations. Although what he had written has not happened so far, what’s worth attention is that Tesla predicted the potential of drone warfare more than a century before unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were put to use in in the so-called War on Terror. So far, thousands of people have been killed in drone strikes by the US alone.


The first unmanned drone or remote controlled aircraft used in a warfare was the Kettering Bug, a bomb invented for World War I.  The bomb carried by a biplane could fly to its target on a preset route. It however, could not be perfected until the end of the war. Moreover, it was a quite complicated and expensive process that called for destroying the plane once it was put to use. Also, the drone was incapable of changing course after launch, therefore, making it look like an inappropriate way of dropping bombs.