An architecture and framework for safe and autonomous UAV applications

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The SafeDroneWare project aims to develop an architecture and a reusable, integrated framework for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platform. Developers will be able to use this platform to build safe and autonomous UAV applications.

Maximum safety and autonomy of UAVs

The market for UAVs – better known as ‘drones’ – is expanding rapidly for consumers and businesses. UAVs can be used in applications as diverse as law enforcement, construction, agriculture, logistics and many more. Unfortunately, uncontrolled use of UAVs can result in harm to people and property. Relying on manual control is not only very complex and prone to human error, it is often an inefficient way of providing a drone service.

The SafeDroneWare project will take an integrated approach to developing low-level and application-level software, reliable communication, drone sensors and hardware to ensure maximum safety and to support autonomous UAV behaviour. This will help businesses maximize cost-effectiveness while using UAVs in compliant and safe ways, helping European industries flourish.

Modular solution

SafeDroneWare will produce a ‘modular’ solution with components that can be applied in various UAV applications. These components can also be mixed and matched with other components and analysed for their implications on UAV behaviour and safety.

Overall, the project aims to define an architecture and a corresponding framework for supporting autonomous UAV behaviour that complies with general as well as application-specific safety specifications, ensuring reliable wireless communication between a UAV and a ground station, while operating within EU and worldwide legal frameworks.

Pylon inspection and air quality monitoring

SafeDroneWare will be steered by two real-world case studies: 

  • pylon inspection; and 
  • air quality monitoring. 

Partners will bring expertise to the project in the areas of UAV software and hardware, software engineering, wireless communication, and legislation.

The outcomes of the project will address important safety, autonomy and legal concerns that hamper the more widespread use of drones. This will enable UAVs to be used more regularly in many beneficial applications.

"A well-established legal framework must be in place to restrict UAV usage to where it benefits society. The SafeDroneWare project does not bypass this topic, but instead makes it an intrinsic part of its activities."


An architecture and framework for safe and autonomous UAV applications.

SafeDroneWare is an imec.icon research project funded by imec, Innoviris and Agentschap Innoveren & Ondernemen.

It ran from 01.04.2016 until 31.03.2018.

Project information


  • Nimera Mobile ICT
  • Elia System Operator
  • Intermodalics


  • imec - CiTiP - KU Leuven
  • imec - IDLab - UGent
  • imec - DistriNet - KU Leuven


  • Project Lead: Ruben Smits
  • Research Lead: Tom Holvoet
  • Innovation Manager: Stefan Van Baelen