ESM Receiver for Drone Detection




Greater Copenhagen area

The project is to build and test a low cost Electronic Support Measures (ESM) receiver to investigate the passive detection of drones via their emitted RF signals.

The idea is to use a low-cost commercial off the shelf SDR receiver to detect, isolate and classify drones based on the RF signals from the ground transmitter to and from the drone. The ground transmitter to the drone is typically 2.4 GHz RF, and the video data from the drone to the ground is typically 2.4 GHz or 5.8GHz.

Terma has a 2 Rx AD9371 evaluation board which it could loan to DTU (which covers 300MHz to 6GHz). Or perhaps use this upcoming board (the latter has a maximum receiver RF frequency of 1.7GHz, so down conversion of the input 2.4GHz signals would be needed).

The project would record the drone control signals, and then use offline signal processing to isolate the drone signals in frequency, estimate the directions to both the drone and the drone operator (e.g. using monopulse or DOA techniques) and use a variety of drones to build up a database of drone signals for classification. The hardware could also be used to detect and locate other interesting signals within the device band: e.g. mobile phones, walkie talkies etc.

No online FPGA programming would be required. All signal processing could be performed using Matlab or Python for example.

Experiments to collect data could be performed using drones and drone operators from DTU within lab settings: with static drones at fixed positions. External trials could be performed using drones in flight, subject to the range and sensitivity limits of the hardware.

See for a commercial passive drone detection system for illustration.

DTU supervisor
Birte Kronbak Andersen is not a possible supervisor, but DTU supervisor can be found at either DTU Space or DTU Electro.

TERMA contact:
Specialist Brian Tollins
Radar Technology Research & Innovation Management
Technology & Innovation
Terma A/S

In collaboration with



Digital Signal Processing, Radar Theory. Experience with SDR devices, radar hardware and lab measurements is desirable, but not essential.

Search in postings

Technical University of Denmark

For almost two centuries DTU, Technical University of Denmark, has been dedicated to fulfilling the vision of H.C. Ørsted – the father of electromagnetism – who founded the university in 1829 to develop and create value using the natural sciences and the technical sciences to benefit society.

Today, DTU is ranked as one of the foremost technical universities in Europe, continues to set new records in the number of publications, and persistently increases and develops our partnerships with industry, and assignments accomplished by DTU’s public sector consultancy.

Find us here

Anker Engelunds Vej 1
Bygning 101A
2800 Kgs. Lyngby


Tlf. (+45) 45 25 25 25

CVR-nr. 30 06 09 46

All vacant positions