An investigation is underway to determine its origin and identify suspects and their motive.
Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary says the device was a quadcopter and was about 2 feet in diameter. A quadcopter is an unmanned aircraft that is lifted by four propellers.
Leary says the quadcopter was flying at a very low altitude before it crashed on the southeast side of the executive mansion around 3:08 a.m. Monday.
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were in New Delhi and not at the White House.
Leary says in a statement that the White House complex was immediately locked down until the device was examined and cleared.