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UK’s first drone mail service takes flight in Orkney

Orkney becomes the first location in the UK to implement a drone mail delivery service, a collaboration between Royal Mail and Skyports.
drone mail

Orkney, a group of islands off the coast of Scotland, has achieved a significant milestone as it becomes the first location in the UK to implement a drone mail delivery service.

The venture, called Orkney I-Port, is a collaborative effort between Royal Mail and Skyports, a drone technology firm. The aim of the project is to enhance mail distribution efficiency between the islands using cutting-edge drone technology.

Working in conjunction with the council’s harbour authority and Loganair, the drone mail service will commence its operations from Royal Mail’s Kirkwall delivery office, transporting letters and parcels to the town of Stromness. From there, drones will take over the responsibility of delivering items to the islands of Graemsay and Hoy, where postal staff will complete the final leg of the delivery routes.

The trial period for the drone mail service will run for three months, during which its impact and effectiveness will be closely monitored. If successful, there are plans to continue the service on a permanent basis, taking advantage of Orkney’s unique landscape and the close proximity of the islands to one another.

One of the main advantages of employing drones for inter-island delivery is the significant improvement in service levels and delivery times. As Orkney’s weather and geography can sometimes disrupt conventional delivery services, the drone service is expected to mitigate such challenges, ensuring a more reliable and timely postal experience for the island’s residents.

Safety is also a paramount concern, especially in remote regions. By utilising electric drones for inter-island mail delivery, the risk to postal workers travelling between ports will be minimised, further promoting the welfare of those involved in the process.

The drone operations will be carried out using the Speedbird Aero DLV-2 aircraft, a multirotor drone with a maximum payload capacity of up to 6kg (approximately 1 stone). The funding for this ambitious project comes from the Department for Transport’s Freight Innovation Fund, and it is being executed by the Connected Places Catapult.

Chris Paxton, head of drone trials at Royal Mail, expressed pride in their collaboration with Skyports, stating that the project’s goal is to provide efficient delivery services to some of the most remote communities in the UK. He emphasised Royal Mail’s commitment to reducing emissions associated with their operations while facilitating better connectivity among the island communities they serve.

Echoing this sentiment, Alex Brown, director of Skyports Drone Services, highlighted the transformative potential of drone technology in revolutionising mail services for remote communities. The adoption of drones allows for more efficient and timely deliveries, which in turn reduces the dependency on emissions-producing vehicles for transportation.

This collaboration between Royal Mail and Skyports marks a significant step forward for UK logistics, demonstrating the practical benefits that drone operations can bring to the delivery industry. As the trial period unfolds in Orkney, all eyes are on the potential impact and the prospect of making drone mail delivery a regular part of the island’s postal services.

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