The European Union (EU) is planning to release a roadmap for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) air traffic by the end of 2012, which will enable UAVs to fly in the same airspace as general air traffic by 2016.

European Defence Agency research and technology director Christian Breant was quoted by Defense News as saying that the officials preparing future technologies and those devising future regulations have been working since early September 2012 to rapidly develop the roadmap.

The officials are expected to determine the cost of putting the roadmap into practice in early 2013, Breant added.

The project is expected to achieve initial capability with some restrictions in 2016, followed by full operational capability by 2020.

Pursued as part of a European Framework Cooperation agreement, which was signed between the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the European Commission, the project is an effort to further improve civil-military cooperation in research and technology domains.

Other programme partners include the European Commission (EC), Eurocontrol and the European Aviation Safety Agency.

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Funding for the project is expected to be provided through the EU’s civilian Horizon 2020 programme and the EDA’s joint investment programme.

The latest move follows a written declaration submitted by the French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish foreign affairs and defence ministers to EU, urging it to continue further research into dual-use technologies and enhance synergies between member countries’ defence-related research and technology activities.

EC and EDA are already coordinating research activities in chemical and biological protection, and areas where dual-use technologies could emerge include cyber defence, unmanned maritime systems and development of materials based on carbon fibre and gallium nitride for high performance radar and electronic warfare.