Advancement of Drone Technology – From Military Asset to Commercial Item

Advancement of Drone Technology – From Military Asset to Commercial Item

Nowadays it seems like corporations and companies around the world find ways to make good use of newer technologies that have quickly become popular. This newer technology that is under discussion has already been made into a competitive event known as “The Drone Racing League”. A drone is an “unmanned aerial vehicle” (also known as a UAV) that has been used as a military device for many decades and has currently been brought to the public as a commercial item. And what started out as a hobby, became a popular sporting event that will be airing its 3rd season of their racing league on ESPN September 6th.

History of The Drone Technology

Pre World War II

Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane

(Hewitt Sperry aircraft in 1918)


Though drone technology may seem new to the average person, this type of technology has been in use within militaries around the world for close to a century. The first known time when UAVs were being developed was during World War I. The device was called the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane and its purpose was to be used as an unmanned aircraft with the ability to either drop an explosive or dive as a suicidal mission. In its early iterations on September 1917, the Hewitt-Sperry plane was successfully flown with a back-up pilot lifting it off and landing it down, and in 1918 the device was also launched successfully off of a Marmon’s (an old fashion car) roof, but there were many unsuccessful flights which lead to them running out of prototypes to fly, As time passed the Navy decided to take control of the Automatic Airplane program from Sperry.


Kettering Bug

(Kettering Bug on a Dolly and Track system )

In 1918 while World War I was still going on, after the demonstration of the Hewitt-Sperry plane, the US Army authorized for the development of the Kettering Bug. The Kettering Bug was designed by Charles Kettering (a well-known American Inventor, Engineer, Businessman, and also was head of research at General Motors from 1920-1947) and was manufactured by the Dayton-Wright Company. The Kettering Bug proved to be more successful than its predecessor, but still had more failures than success, the Kettering Bug was not used on the battlefield due to the possibility of it falling prematurely onto Allied Forces.


Curtiss N2C-2

(Curtiss N2C-2 on the ground )


In the early 1930s, the Navy went into the process of developing the first unmanned aircraft that was controlled by radio technology. The U.S Navy Curtiss N2C-2 winged aircraft was converted into a target drone at the Navel Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The aircraft was successfully built in 1937 and were controlled by a radio transmitting device being used by a nearby piloted airplane.


World War II and Forward


Radioplane OQ2

(Kettering Bug on the ground)


The Radioplane OQ2 was developed by Radioplane which was an aviation company that produced UAV aircrafts to be used for target practice. The OQ2 was the first mass-produced unmanned aerial vehicle, generating 15,000 units to be used by the U.S Army to improve the gunners who fire the anti-aircraft cannon (training was to help the gunners become more capable of shooting down piloted planes from the ground). The U.S Navy also acquired a lower quantity of the OQ2 model for their own training purposes.


Tadiran Mastiff

(Mastiff at the Israeli Air Force Museum)


After what happened to Israel during the “1973 Yom Kippur War” ( Israel was caught off guard by the Egyptian and Syrian forces who attacked them on “Yom Kippur” the Holiest day of Judaism), the Israeli forces developed what was known to be the first surveillance drone of modern time. This gave Israeli forces the ability to gain live video of areas that an individual was less capable of seeing from the ground and the Mastiff was able to stay in the air for more than 7 hours at a time. This was the beginning of the surge for drone technology within military forces as Israel later on developed battlefield UAV’s which assisted greatly in battles with bordering nations, lowering the Israeli casualties.


RQ2 Pioneer

(Photo of RQ2 Pioneer from the U.S Navy)

The RQ2 Pioneer was jointly developed by the Israeli Aircraft Industry and Aircraft Armaments Inc (later known as AAI Corporation which is an American Aircraft Industry) becoming the first tactical battlefield UAV in use within the U.S Armed Forces (The Navy was first to receive deliveries of the RQ2 in July 1986, then the Marines in July 1987, and finally the Army in March 1990). The Pioneer was first battle-tested in the Operation of Desert Storm in 1991and proved to be worth its development.


There’s a lot more to the advancement of drone technology, but if you are still interest, you can find more information through the links provided below:



The Integration of Drones into Civilian Life

It was not until 2006 that the U.S Federal Aviation Administration permitted the use of drones within civilian airspace, for the purpose of finding any remaining survivors from Hurricane Katrina. The drone was equipped with a camera that had infrared capabilities, giving them the ability to spot heat signatures from 10,000 feet up. It was not that far in the future when drones became accessible to the public. Big Corporations like Amazon have made plans to use drones as a device to transport purchased items to their customers. Also, to make drone owners more responsible for their actions, they must register to fly their drone and adhere to the regulations set by the Federal Aviation Administration or they may have to deal with consequences.


What is the Drone Racing League?

DRL Origins


The Drone Racing League was founded by Nick Horbaczewski who saw his first drone race in 2015 at Long Island, Newyork behind a warehouse and this event is what motivated him to create his own league, with the regulations he felt would make the DRL into a level playing field for all participants (one example being, providing the participants with drones of the same design, to prevent anyone’s drone from having an advantage over the other). Drone racing has far more obstacles than NASCSAR racing, with flips, spins, bumps, crashes and no worries of bodily harm, due to there being no actual person driving within the drone. Then add in the “First Person View” goggles that participants are required to wear to make the experience for them and the viewers more exciting.



Take a look at how the competitors see the course as they race through the obstacles at high velocities to the finish line (or zone).



Check out the previous DRL Seasons If You Like


Season 1

Description: Experience the excitement of the drone racing league as professional drone racers fly through a designed course while wearing first-person view goggles that have them navigating through the course in the drone’s point of view. Check out the episodes from star to finish seeing who will come out on top.


Link: The Drone Racing League Season 1


Season 2

Description: In this season’s installment of the drone racing league, witness bigger courses, more durable drones, which leads too even more excitement than before. This is the second year of DRL, another high speed, drone flips and spins, crash at any second race to the finish.


Link: Drone Racing League Season 2


Season 3 Coming Soon!!!



Want to Try Your Hand at Drone Racing? Check out some quality options!

(Clicking Image directs you to purchasing screen)

1. DYS FPV Racing Drone Kit

  • Comes Fully assembled so you can start flying as you are ready
  • Constructed to be light-weight and durable
  • Built to be fast without the risk of ruining the equipment
  • Premium First Person View real-time video transmission

2. Walkera F210 FPV Racing Drone RC Quadcoper RTF

  • High speed of 60 miles per hour
  • Full carbon design for shock resistance and durability
  • Easy to assemble and maintenance

3. ARRIS X-Speed 280 V2 FPV Quadcopter Racing Drone RTF

  • Comes fully assembled, adjusted and tested before leaving the factory, once the battery is charged you’ll be ready to fly
  • 3mm thick arms, strong and durable
  • Enjoy flying fast with this high performance drone

4. Force 1 Drone

  • Easy to assemble,  durable, and fun speed
  • Has 3 return-home modes, where the drone comes back automatically from within 500 meters
  • Crisp First Person View 1080p HD video Camera
  • If you don’t like, you can get a full refund


Drones have been a valued technology within the military for more than a century. And like many technologies before, drones have become a new avenue of commerce for the public population. Now with the DRL making its mark within the drone industry ( And doing pretty well with their 3rd Season beginning on September 6th and airing on ESPN ), who knows what the next creative way drones will be used in the future.





9 thoughts on “Advancement of Drone Technology – From Military Asset to Commercial Item

  1. I had no idea that back in the 1930’s we were already using or experimenting with drone like technology! That is so awesome! My how far we have come in such a short time! I also didn’t know that drone racing was even a thing! I wonder when this technology will come full swing to cars! The question I have is what type of drone would your recommend for a beginner?

    1. Mr T. Sports

      I felt the same way as you Tristin! I was very shocked to see how far back in time drone technology has been in development. I actually have just found another option that you may like. It’s called the Force 1 Drone , it’s more affordable and it has good ratings. I’ll have the details of the drone on my post. 🙂

  2. I didn’t know drone technology is old! It was very interesting reading how everything started. But even more exciting is the present and the future!
    Drone Racing League seems like fantastic opportunity to test one’s skills!

    What drone option, among the three shown by you, is the best value for money? What choice do you prefer?

    Thank you

    1. Mr T. Sports

      Hey Tony! Of the three I have shown I’d say the Arris X Speed, mainly because it has a slightly higher rating on amazon(From what I have seen there aren’t many differences between the three because all three have good ratings). I also added another option called the Force 1 Drone which is on discount and it’s price is currently lower than the rest. Hope this was helpful for you.

  3. Yes, many if not most of our technological advances started and were developed in the military. Our lives in the civilian world have been improved as a result.

    Many in the civilian world take these developments for granted.

    Thanks for this article. I find drones fascinating!

    1. Mr T. Sports

      Thank you Christie! Sure gotta appreciate the many ways the military has contributed to the development of the United States.

  4. PCGamer

    This was quite the article. I have always found technology to be interesting. I mean I was tinkering with computer when I was young. Thank you for the different type of drones, I have wanted one for so long. Maybe now I can finally decide on one.

    1. Mr T. Sports

      Hey PC!!!

      I can relate, I also was introduced to computers at a young age, and continue to be interest in the many ways it will be used in the future. I’m glad you enjoyed reading :).

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