Top 10 Inventions Of Leonardo da Vinci

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Leonardo da Vinci is one of the greatest artists of the High Renaissance period. One of his most famous paintings is the Mona Lisa, which hangs at the Louvre Museum today. In addition to being an artist, Leonardo was a master inventor as well. We have compiled a list of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions that heavily impacted history.

Let us take a look at the Top 10 Inventions Of Leonardo Da Vinci.

1) The machine gun

In an attempt to increase the firepower of a traditional cannon, Leonardo da Vinci devised a multi-barreled cannon that could be rotated to fire a line of muskets whilst another was being loaded. Additionally, its fan-shaped design allowed the machine to widen its field of fire and attack the advancing troop as effectively as possible. Ultimately, Leonardo’s concept was used commercially as a machine gun in the 19th century.

A picture of the machine gun-Leonardo da Vinci's inventions

2) Leonardo da Vinci’s invention of the mechanical knight

Also known as Leonardo’s robot, the mechanical knight was one of his unique inventions. The knight was essentially a humanoid automaton designed and possibly constructed by Leonardo around 1495. And it was described as being clad in German-Italian medieval armour. The astonishing fact about the robot was that it could stand, sit, raise its visor and independently manoeuvre its arms. Additionally, it had an anatomically correct jaw. The robot system was operated by wheels and gears which were connected with the help of a pulley through a cable system. Ultimately the design was patented by Mark Rosheim in the year 2002 after he successfully constructed a version of this humanoid automaton using Leonardo’s sketches.

A picture of the mechanical knight-Leonardo da Vinci's inventions

3) The parachute

Another invention attributed to Leonardo da Vinci is the parachute. He had sketched and designed it in the 15th century. However, his design was quite different from the modern parachute. Leonardo’s parachute design consists of a sealed linen piece of cloth held open by a wooden pyramid structure, about seven metres long. According to him, it allowed man to “throw himself down from any great height without sustaining any injury”.

Leonardo’s idea was far ahead of his time and he did not have the right technology to test his invention. However, 500 years later, in the year 2000, Leonardo was proved right when Adrian Nicholas tried his parachute design and safely floated down. After his ride, he even stated that it was smoother than modern parachutes.

A picture of the parachute-Leonardo da Vinci's inventions

4) The ornithopter a.k.a the flying machine

Inspired by the birds, Leonardo da Vinci designed the ornithopter which was essentially an aircraft that flies by flapping its wings. Leonardo had grasped that the average human was too heavy to fly with just wings attached to them. Hence he sketched out the design of the ornithopter; a device in which the pilot lies down on a plank and pedals two large wings using manually operated levers and a system of pulleys. Once in the air, the wings would flap, much like a bird’s.

A picture of the Ornithopter a.k.a the Flying Machine-Leonardo da Vinci's inventions

5) Aerial screw

The aerial screw was one of several aerial machines designed and drawn by Leonardo da Vinci. It consisted of a spinning linen aerial screw designed to compress air to induce flight. The design essentially outlines the idea of a contemporary helicopter. Additionally, Leonardo’s notes also suggest that he constructed small flying models of the aerial screw, however, due to limited technology he could never build a full-size working version.

A picture of the Aerial screw-Leonardo da Vinci's inventions

6) Viola organista- Leonardo da Vinci’s musical invention

Leonardo da Vinci is also credited for the invention of the musical instrument viola organista. Leonardo presumably wanted to create a universal instrument that combined the sound qualities of a harpsichord, viola da gamba and an organ. Hence he came up with the concept of viola organista. The organ functions by pulling the instrument strings with the help of a keyboard and string mechanism towards a moving wheel which is wrapped with horsehair. This makes the strings vibrate and produce a sweet sound. Although Leonardo conceptualised the design, he never brought it into existence. However, it garnered a lot of interest after his death and many musicians invented various versions of the instrument.

A picture of the Viola Organista

7) Scuba gear

While staying in Venice, in the 1500s, Leonardo designed the scuba gear as part of an elaborate plan to attack the Ottoman ships that were attacking Venice at the time. Leonardo’s scuba gear consisted of a leather diving suit that was equipped with a bag-like mask that went over the diver’s head. The mask consisted of breathing holes, glass goggles and an inflatable wineskin to enable sinking and floating. Additionally, the diving suit also incorporated a pouch for the diver to urinate in. Leonardo considered the technology too dangerous to describe fully. Stating that “evil men would use it for assassinations and wrongfully sink ships”.

8) Leonardo da Vinci’s invention of the armoured vehicle was a prototype for modern tanks

The armoured vehicle is another invention credited to Leonardo da Vinci. While working under the patronage of the Duke of Milan, Leonardo came up with a concept that many would describe as the prototype for modern tanks. The armoured vehicle was equipped with an array of light cannons and was to be operated by four men. Additionally, its covering was inspired by a turtle’s shell and was made of wood and reinforced with metal plates.

Although the machine was impressive, the diagram contained an error: the gears of the design were located in a reversed order. This essentially made the vehicle unworkable. However, according to some sources, this was a deliberate mistake as Leonardo did not want his design falling into wrong hands and used irresponsibly.

A picture of the armoured vehicle

9) Leonardo da Vinci’s invention of the self-propelled cart is the ancestor of the modern automobile

Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions were indeed ahead of their time and one such invention was the self-propelled cart. The cart was capable of moving without being pushed and many consider it to be the world’s first robot. The cart was powered by two symmetric coiled springs and it also featured steering and brake capabilities. The moment the brake was released, the car was propelled ahead. Additionally, the steering was pre-programmed to go either straight or at pre-set angles.

The cart’s design and its exact workings were so complex that it baffled scholars until the late 20th century. In 2006, the concept was finally brought into existence by an Italian institute and to everyone’s surprise, the cart actually worked! Furthermore, many experts note that it looked similar to the Mars Land Rover.

A picture of the self-propelled cart

10) Leonardo da Vinci’s anemometer

An anemometer is essentially a device used for measuring wind speed and direction. According to historians, it was Leonardo’s fascination with flight that inspired him to innovate the anemometer. Although he did not actually invent the device, he made several variations to the existing design by Leon Battista. Leonardo’s innovation essentially made it easier to measure wind force.

A picture of Leonardo Da Vinci's anemometer

Enjoyed the above article? You may also enjoy 20 great Ancient Egyptian inventions that changed the world

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