History Series: The First Quadcopter

The concept of the quadcopter, an aerial vehicle with four rotors, was first developed by brothers Jacques and Louis Bréguet in 1907. They built a multicopter in order to solve the problems that arrived with VTOL (vertical take off and landing) flight. However, they were quick to realize that the quadcopter design was very unstable and impractical. Large quadcopters required complex mechanical systems to achieve control, people were unable to keep them stable.

Soon after, French engineer, Etienne Oehmichen designed the manned Oehmichen 2 which set the world record for travelling a distance of 360m. At this time computers and electric motors didn’t exist, thus deriving the conclusion that the single rotor design was more feasible. Although these quadcopters were manned, the design continued to be implemented (with limited adoption and use cases) throughout the 20th century to achieve vertical flight. Further technological developments, particularly around smartphone technology, made the concept more viable and today it is the most common rotor setup for sUAS platforms. Smaller quadcopters are able to achieve the physical control large manned copters were unable to through an inertial measurement unit (IMU). Combined with a computer the system easily controls the speed of motors to make it stable. They are also much simpler mechanically than a helicopter making them easy to manufacture and more durable.


Sarah Baig

Marketing Coordinator

January 25, 2022