Human detection of drone invasion in a low-altitude airspace : An application of signal detection theory

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

2 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-85
Journal / PublicationHuman Factors and Ergonomics In Manufacturing
Issue number1
Online published21 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


A field study was conducted to investigate the sensitivity of human participants in detecting the invasion of a drone in the airspace. A Phantom 4 quadcopter was remotely controlled to hovering at air locations inside or outside of a stadium. Twenty participants were requested to determine whether the drone has invaded in the test field or not on a five-point scale. The participants also responded whether they have heard the sound of the drone. The nonparametric measures of the sensitivity of drone invasion detection, or P(A), were calculated. The results indicated that the distance between the drone and the boundary of the airspace significantly affected the P(A) while the effects of drone altitude were not significant. The participants were not unbiased detectors. They tended to respond “probably yes,” in general, when they spotted a drone near the airspace. The hearing of the sound of the drone provided partial cues in drone invasion detection.

Research Area(s)

  • airspace invasion, rating scale task, response bias, signal detection, unmanned aircraft vehicle