Supporting the safe integration of drones into airspace

“We will develop AI based model for drone’s flight in urban areas. This is exciting cutting edge exploratory research”, says professor Aurilla Aurelie Arntzen (left) together with Head of Department of Science and Industry systems at USN, Elisabet Syverud.
“We will develop AI based model for drone’s flight in urban areas. This is exciting cutting edge exploratory research”, says professor Aurilla Aurelie Arntzen (photo on the left) together with Head of Department of Science and Industry systems at USN, Elisabet Syverud.

The University of South-Eastern Norway will coordinate a new EU project with the aim of paving the way for safe drone operations in urban and restricted areas. AI-Based models will be used to explore and develop a safe airspace.

“This project will contribute to design the city of the future. The cutting-edge project is not only about technology, but also legal aspects, safety and security, privacy, ethics and accountability”, explains Professor Aurilla Aurelie Arntzen at the University of South-Eastern Norway. She will lead the project and has conducted research on robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for many years.

The project is co-funded within the framework of the SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking (SESAR 3 JU) and Horizon Europe. The SESAR 3 JU manages the U-space research programme for the safe and secure integration of drones. As an exploratory research project, AI4Hydrop is expected to provide the innovation seeds for future industrial research and large-scale demonstrations that will eventually help pave the way for operational deployment.

Missing rules in space

With a grant of almost EURO 2,000,000 and 10 partners, the project will work on a framework to improve airspace safety. The research aims to develop a roadmap to support airspace structure management.

“Roads in cities are regulated and organised into clear driving lanes but the space above has yet to be organised in a way that enables safe and effective use of that space. We will look at the city from a 3D perspective which encompasses aerial corridors and no fly zones and develop a  set of rules allowing drone's operations while taking into account several constraints such as regulations, noise and level of citizens' acceptance” says Arntzen.

The project builds on knowledge gaps identified in several European projects including the "U-space Separation in Europe " (USEPE) project in which some members of the current consortium have participated.Foto: ShutterstockWith an increasing number and diversity of potential drone operations, managing the airspace to accommodate these drones will become an increasingly sophisticated task, especially in densely populated urban areas encompassing restricted zones with dynamic environmental and operational influences. Due to the associated higher probability of conflicts, and ultimately collisions, such areas require management of dedicated structured airspace, operations, and services to help mitigate these potential hazards.

Strong partners

The international consortium in the AI4HyDrop project represents universities and research institutes, public sector and airspace industry from Spain, Turkey, Germany, Czech Republic, France and Norway.

The partners have complementary competence such as developing Artificial Intelligence models, wind field and turbulence, and air traffic management. The kick off meeting will take place on the 27th of September at Cuatro Vientos Airport, Madrid, during the Expodronica event.

Co-funded by the European Union

The project is supported by the SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking and its founding members and co-funded by the EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon Europe under Grant Agreement no 101114805.

Supported by sesar



Name of the project: An AI-based Holistic Dynamic Framework for a safe Drone’s Operations in restricted and urban areas (AI4HyDrop)

Funding: AI4HyDrop was recently awarded EURO 1,993,112.50 through the Horizon Europe SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking programme.

SESAR 3 JU is an institutionalised European partnership between private and public sector partners set up to accelerate through research and innovation the delivery of the Digital European Sky. To do so, it is harnessing, developing and accelerating the take-up of the most cutting-edge technological solutions to manage conventional aircraft, drones, air taxis and vehicles flying at higher altitudes.

Duration: 1st September 2023 - 28th February 2026


  • University of South-Eastern Norway
  • European University of Madrid
  • KATARA, France
  • Istanbul Technical University
  • SINTEF AS, Norway
  • The Czech Aerospace Research Centre
  • German Aerospace
  • General Directorate of State Airports Authority (Turkey)
  • Düzce city (Turkey)
  • Sopra Steria Group (France)

Disclaimer: Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or SESAR 3 JU. Neither the European Union nor the SESAR 3 JU can be held responsible for them.