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Royal Mail deliver by Drones

Photograph By Chris Gorman / Royal Mail.

Royal Mail and partners have delivered two more UK firsts. As part of a specialist consortium, Royal Mail became the first UK parcel carrier to deliver mail to a UK island via Drone.

The first trial saw the first out-of-sight autonomous scheduled drone flight between the UK mainland and the Scilly Isles, and the first inter-island parcel deliveries across the Scillies via smaller vertical take-off and landing drones.

Nick Landon, Chief Commercial Officer for Royal Mail said, “Two more major UK firsts is hugely significant for us, and we are incredibly proud to find ways to support the more remote and isolated communities we serve. This is part of our constant drive to incorporate the best and most innovative technologies into our network.”

The project received funding from the Government, has been developed in partnership with DronePrep, Skyports, Consortiq Limited, University of Southampton, Excalibur Healthcare Services and Windracers Limited, and will focus initially on helping to fight the pandemic and deliver crucial PPE and testing kits to the islands most vulnerable and remote communities.

Parcels will be flown roughly 70miles, to the islands’ airport in St. Mary’s, by a UK-built-twin-engine Windracers UAV, which can carry up to 100kg’s worth of Mail and can accommodate all shapes and sizes of parcel, enabling it to be used to deliver more general mail.

A smaller VTO drone, operated by Skyports, will then be used to transport items to delivery points throughout the islands.

The companies who have teamed up with Royal Mail for this trial have been really pleased with the outcome. Charles Scales, Chief Executive Officer of Windracers, who build the UAV said, “It’s been a privilege and an honour to serve the Isles of Scilly and Royal Mail’s customers and employees with our autonomous, 100kg over 1,000-kilometre, ULTRA UAV.”

While Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports, who have worked with Royal Mail to conduct several successful drone deliveries said, “It’s very gratifying to be part of this new project, using cutting edge technology to connect communities and make a real difference to peoples’ day to day lives.”

Environmental Benefits

As well as helping to connect remote communities to the UK mainland, the trial also offers potential environmental benefits, with the companies planning to examine the fuel efficiencies that the drones could provide, which will help Royal Mail with its continued drive to reduce its operation emissions.

With the UK’s largest “Feet on the Street” network of over 90,000 postmen and women, Royal Mail already has the lowest reported CO2e emissions per parcel amongst major UK delivery companies and with this trail and the potential introduction of low emissions vehicles, such as UAVs will help the company meet its long-term environmental strategy and its goal of delivering a cleaner future.

With a successful trial to the Scilly Isles and a successful delivery via drone to a remote lighthouse on the Isle of Mull in Scotland

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