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Collisions between tags greatly reduce the identification speed in radio frequency identification (RFID) systems and increase communication overhead. In particular for an active RFID system, tags are powered by small batteries, and a large number of re-transmissions caused by collisions can deteriorate and exhaust the tag energy which may result in missing tags. An efficient collision-free arbitration protocol for active RFID systems is proposed in this paper. In this protocol, a new mechanism involving collision detection, collision avoidance, and fast tag access is introduced. Specifically, the pulse burst duration and busy-tone- detection delay are introduced between the preamble and data portion of a tag-to-reader (T-R) frame. The reader identifies tag collision by detecting pulses and transmits a busy tone to avoid unnecessary transmission when collision occurs. A polling process is then designed to quickly access the collided tags. It is shown that the use of the proposed protocol results in a system throughput of 0.612, which is an obvious improvement when compared to the framed- slotted ALOHA (FSA) arbitration protocol for ISO/IEC 18000- 7 standard. Furthermore, the proposed protocol greatly reduces communication overhead, which leads to energy conservation.