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Integration of UAVs with Air Traffic Control (ATC) is a world wide problem. ATC is already troubled by capacity problems due to a vast amount of air traffic. In the future when large numbers of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) will participate in the same airspace, the situation cannot afford to have UAVs that need special attention. Regulations for UAV flights in civil airspace are still being developed but it is expected that authorities will require UAVs to operate “like manned aircraft”. The implication is that UAVs need to become full participants of a complex socio-technical environment and need to generate ‘man like’ decisions and behavior. In order to deal with the complexity a novel approach to developing UAV autonomy is needed, aimed to create an environment that fosters shared situation awareness between the UAVs, pilots and controllers. The underlying principle is to develop an understanding of the work domain that can be shared between people and UAVs. A powerful framework to represent the meaningful structure of the environment is Rasmussen’s abstraction hierarchy. This paper proposes that autonomous UAVs can base their reasoning, decisions and actions on the abstraction hierarchy framework and communicate about their goals and intentions with human operators. It is hypothesized that the properties of the framework can create ‘shared situation awareness’ between the artificial and human operators despite the differences in their internal workings.