Unmanned Systems of World Wars I and II

“Drones are the hallmark of tech-y modern warfare, but weapons piloted from afar have been around for more than a century. These long-gone systems used servos, gyroscopes, motors, and rotary switches, and they’re all lovingly described in Unmanned Systems of World Wars I and II, an encyclopedic history of remotely controlled ships, planes, and tanks.”

Wired Magazine


Unmanned Systems of World Wars I & II unveils a forgotten past from radio-controlled battleships and B-17 bombers to paddle-wheel aircraft carriers. This fascinating journey back in time to well before the First World War documents the genesis of what promises to be one of the biggest paradigm shifts in the evolution of mankind.

Rare in-flight photo of an unmanned Culver PQ-14B target drone and its twin-engine CQ-3 director, trailed by a Curtiss Helldiver chase plane at bottom right.

Vintage woodcut engraving entitled “The Lay Torpedo – The Public Trial at Cleveland, Ohio from photographs by Thomas T. Sweeny.” Note conical shape, dual rudders, and twin parallel pipes beneath the false keel at lower left for engine exhaust and control cable payout.

Constructed at the Fisher Tank Arsenal, the radio-controlled T-10 Mine Exploder’s front drive wheels were 8 feet in diameter, while the trailing rear wheel measured 6 feet. Note the bottom of the Sherman M4A2 tank is above the front axle, providing more room for blast dispersion.

More than 500 illustrations—photographs, drawings, and plans, many of them never before published—are featured in Unmanned Systems of World Wars I & II.

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Video Slide Tour

Take a short video slide tour of Unmanned Systems of World Wars I & II, the genesis of creating the book, and what readers are saying.

About the Author

H. R. (Bart) Everett is a retired U. S. Navy commander and Technical Director for Robotics at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) in San Diego. In 1986, he established a pioneering in-house government program in robotic science and technology at this location, then the Naval Ocean Systems Center.

Learn more about H.R. (Bart) Everett

Other Books by H.R. (Bart) Everett

The Evolution of ROBART: A Quest for Machine Intelligence
In Progress

The Evolution of ROBART traces the author’s life-long pursuit of intelligent robotic systems, starting with his high-school science-fair project, the fully autonomous CRAWLER series in 1965. Everett’s first computer-controlled robot, ROBART I was constructed in 1980 and later displayed at the Expo ’86 World’s Fair in Vancouver, BC, soon followed by its increasingly more sophisticated descendants, ROBART II and ROBART III. The underlying theme of the book addresses the nature of machine intelligence, how it has evolved, and where it will ultimately lead.

Navigating Mobile Robots: Systems and Techniques
Johann Borenstein, H.R. Everett, Liqiang Feng
A.K. Peters, 1996

Navigating Mobile Robots surveys then state of the art in sensors, systems, methods, and technologies used by a mobile robot for localization, both relative and absolute. The different solutions presented are compared and analyzed based on technical publications, patent applications, and commercial products, taking into account cost, accuracy, update rate, effective range, processing requirements, and other special features.

Sensors for Mobile Robots: Theory and Application
A.K Peters, 1995

Sensors for Mobile Robots is an unprecedented reference work that compiles into one convenient source everything the student or experienced engineer needs to know about the many perception technologies supporting the evolving field of robotics. Presenting the material in a manner that often parallels robotic development strategies, Everett provides a comprehensive yet easy-to-understand explanation of the theory of sensor operation, with numerous contemporary product descriptions.


Children of Dysfunctional Robots
On Hold

A hilarious and irreverent autobiographical account of certain aspects of the author’s life, Children of Dysfunctional Robots is decidedly ribald and politically incorrect, and will ultimately require some degree of sanitization before ever going to press. From hilarious high-school misadventures and high-tech shenanigans at Georgia Tech to equally entertaining escapades later in life, the storyline is accompanied by numerous contemporary photos that provide some degree of proof such really did happen.
  • As the visionary pioneer of unmanned ground systems in the Department of the Navy from the Cold War to Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, Everett appropriately looks back at the origins of all unmanned systems. His impeccably researched history is as compelling as it is comprehensive.

    Rear Admiral Tim Flynn, USN (Ret.) Commanding Officer, SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific (2002-2005)
  • It is extremely rare to come across a book that adds so much to the information available about its subject, but this book is an extreme example. Everett has produced an exhaustive and unprecedented study of the unmanned vehicles from a period that few people consider when thinking about them. This book is an absolute must for anyone interested in unmanned systems, as well as anyone interested in analog systems and early electronic systems that existed before the digital revolution.

    Bill Yenne author of Attack of the Drones: A History of Unmanned Aerial Combat, Birds of Prey, and Drones at War

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“This book is an absolute must for anyone interested in unmanned systems…”

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