As if creating some of the world’s most famous paintings – The Mona Lisa and The Last Supper – wasn’t enough, Leonardo da Vinci was also an ingenious inventor whose ideas included the ideal city, a giant crossbow and a parachute. Unfortunately, he never got around to designing a machine that could pair our socks. Nevertheless, a few of his designs were so ahead of their time that some speculate he was a genuine time traveller….
He believed he could fly
Flying was an obsession for Leonardo da Vinci and his flying machine, designed to imitate the flapping wings of a bird, is one of his most famous inventions. Yes, it would have required an advanced spin class to operate, and no, it never made it off the page, but Leonardo’s design was still a good 400 years ahead of its time. Would it have taken off? Probably not, but the idea certainly did.
Was he the original Terminator?
At a time when the use of gunpowder was in its infancy, Leonardo da Vinci was busy designing a 33-barrelled cannon that could load weaponry faster during battle. Always thinking three steps ahead, da Vinci’s design featured three rows of 11 guns, ensuring that each tier had time to cool in-between shots. This clever design makes it the earliest example of a mechanism resembling a machine gun.
He designed a robot that could do... the robot
Nearly half a century before we put a man on the moon, Leonardo da Vinci designed the world’s first humanoid robot. Leonardo’s ‘mechanical knight’ was an automaton that could move thanks to a series of cables attached to its limbs. It could raise its arms, lift its visor and sit down. Years later, we’re only just realising the true potential of this design.
Tanks very much, Leo!
Did Leonardo da Vinci invent the first tank? Well, sort of. He designed an armoured car that could be powered by men turning wheels. It looked like a cross between a giant turtle and a Dalek and was designed to deflect arrows – just imagine how scary it would have been on a 15th century battlefield.