Report: The Drone Revolution Revisited

Press Contact: Mark Primoff


[email protected]



First Comprehensive Study of 36 Air, Ground, and Maritime Drones

Provides Key Resource for a Wide Audience of Stakeholders

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. –– A new study released today by The Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College offers a detailed analysis of a wide variety of major military unmanned systems technology programs of the last decade, offering key insights and lessons for stakeholders as we look to the future of drone technology development. “The Drone Revolution Revisited: An Assessment of Military Unmanned Systems in 2016” sheds light on the key strategic and tactical priorities, successes, and pitfalls that have defined unmanned systems development in recent years. The report represents the first time that detailed profiles of this broad range of key unmanned systems programs have been brought together in a single publication; as such, it offers an unprecedented cumulative timeline of the last two decades of major drone development initiatives and a handbook to the diverse ecosystem of unmanned systems today. 

The report is available for free online here.

“Many of us who first got interested in drones five or 10 years ago sometimes find ourselves wondering what happened to the amazing, or scary, or expensive, military systems that we read about back then,” said Bard Human Rights Program Director Thomas Keenan, who cotaught the undergraduate seminar that gave rise to this report. “Now we have the research to answer those questions—and an excellent snapshot of the different things that can happen when hype meets the real world.”

“The Drone Revolution Revisited,” which seeks to serve a broad audience of stakeholders in military, industry, and policy-making circles, consists of research-based profiles of 36 air, ground, and maritime drones. These profiles describe system specifications and capabilities, development history and program cost, mission sets, whether the system has been deployed, whether it has been exported, and, if the program was cancelled, the reasons for its termination. The report focuses on systems mentioned by P. W. Singer in his landmark 2009 book Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, which described the rapid proliferation of military unmanned systems technology and prompted a wide public conversation about the policy implications of the growing use of drones in war.

The report features an in-depth discussion with Singer about the evolution of unmanned systems technology since 2009, as well as likely future trends in unmanned warfare. “It is amazing to look back and see how much has changed in the world of robotics and drones over the last eight years,” said Singer. “‘The Drone Revolution Revisited’ provides a truly useful opportunity to pull back and take stock of where we are now and where we are headed to next in the world of 21st-century tech and war that Wired for War tried to capture.”

Founded in 2012, the Center for the Study of the Drone is a research and education initiative that looks to expand the public’s understanding of the opportunities and challenges associated with the development and proliferation of unmanned technologies. The Center creates inquiry-driven content on unmanned technologies and their impact in both military and civilian spheres for stakeholders and the public at large. For more information, visit or e-mail [email protected].