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So... What was the first ever Radio-Controlled/unmanned Multirotor to fly?

I've been searching Google for a while, but the way that website sorts info these days is just plain dreadful... :( Applied many filters to filter away certain results like '-3D-', '-solar', '-car', and many more. Google basically tells people who want to search for non-popular stuff to sod off... :eek:

Anyway, searched here too but nothing came up, so here's my question, drum-roll please! ;)

What was the first ever Multirotor that was Radio Controlled or by any other unmanned method (the first ever 'RC' Heli was wired, so technically not Radio-Controlled), that took flight successfully? And I do not mean come of the ground and then crash and burn, but actually hover at the very least.

Anyone know? :confused:


creator of virtual planes
I agree with you that Google sucks. I can't get into details as to how hard because there might be children reading this.

It probably depends on your definition of multirotor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadcopter This article may give some good leads.

"A number of manned designs appeared in the 1920s and 1930s." That means the idea was older than I thought it would have been.

My guess would be that it was achieved more recently, probably more than ten years ago but less than twenty. But that's just a guess. And I have no idea what it would have been.
Yeah, it seems pretty hazy as to when they actually appeared, it seems like it happened overnight, huh? *Poof!* "Multirotors, enjoy!" :p But seeing that the idea is that old is quite astonishing. Still, it's weird how the development of Radio-Controlled or simply model, unmanned Multirotors has gone so unnoticed, or at least it's just hard to find any documentation on it.

I'm curious how it did develop, for Radio-Controlled helicopters there seems to be a fair amount of documentation. When you look for the info you can see they were of course using a combustion engine (commercial model helicopters appeared around the 70's I think), were Fixed Pitch with stabilizing bar and had no gyro's. So that makes me wonder what the Multicopter had to do without or differently. I guess they had to come later due to the enormous power to weight requirements, and the fact that you'd need to manage the engine speeds somehow...


Hostage Taker of Quads
Actually, small RC and autonomus quads have been really popular in college engineering labs for the past two decades, but controler, gyro/accelerometer, and battery technology have been holding it back. It's only in the past few years the tech has been up to the challange of the suitcase sized quad (and smaller), then it's taken time to migrate down from the reasearcher, to the hard core early adopter, to the scratch build hobyist.

Release of commercial, generic control boards have been the tipping point for the scratchbuild community, IMO, since the other techs have lead (albiet only slightly). Before then, engineers and researchers were hand-building the control boards. After that, it's the latest "new thing", fairly stable for the beginner, and pretty easy to build.

I think they'll be around for a while in this hobby -- possibly enough so to become a parallel branch with fixed wing and heli -- but it's a matter of time and it'll drop back to "one more good option", instead of the "popular thing to do".


Amateur Extra Class K5TWM
The number one driver of the technology used in multirotors came from the rush to develop the Smart Phone Technology (minor contributions from the gaming industry). They gave us the miniaturized accelerometers, gyro's, electronic compasses and GPS's that are used on our control boards.

The internet and the open source movement has caused the RAPID spread of multirotors.