Tampere University of Technology

TUTCRIS Research Portal

RF-based drone detection and identification using deep learning approaches: An initiative towards a large open source drone database

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86 - 97
JournalFuture Generation Computer Systems: the International Journal of Grid Computing: Theory Methods and Applications
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


The omnipresence of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, among civilians can lead to technical, security, and public safety issues that need to be addressed, regulated and prevented. Security agencies are in continuous search for technologies and intelligent systems that are capable of detecting drones. Unfortunately, breakthroughs in relevant technologies are hindered by the lack of open source databases for drone’s Radio Frequency (RF) signals, which are remotely sensed and stored to enable developing the most effective way for detecting and identifying these drones. This paper presents a stepping stone initiative towards the goal of building a database for the RF signals of various drones under different flight modes. We systematically collect, analyze, and record raw RF signals of different drones under different flight modes such as: off, on and connected, hovering, flying, and video recording. In addition, we design intelligent algorithms to detect and identify intruding drones using the developed RF database. Three deep neural networks (DNN) are used to detect the presence of a drone, the presence of a drone and its type, and lastly, the presence of a drone, its type, and flight mode. Performance of each DNN is validated through a 10-fold cross-validation process and evaluated using various metrics. Classification results show a general decline in performance when increasing the number of classes. Averaged accuracy has decreased from 99.7% for the first DNN (2-classes), to 84.5% for the second DNN (4-classes), and lastly, to 46.8% for the third DNN (10-classes). Nevertheless, results of the designed methods confirm the feasibility of the developed drone RF database to be used for detection and identification. The developed drone RF database along with our implementations are made publicly available for students and researchers alike.


  • UAV detection, Drone identification, Deep learning, Neural networks, Machine learning

Publication forum classification