Royal Mail has teamed up with Skyports Drone Services to introduce a new mail delivery service between three islands in Orkney. This groundbreaking initiative will run for an initial period of three months, with plans to extend it in the future.
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It marks the UK’s very first drone delivery project that can function on a permanent basis within existing regulations as Royal Mail seeks to add more drone delivery routes to its network.
This achievement is made possible by the distinct layout of Orkney and the close proximity of its islands, which allows flights to occur with Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS) permissions, avoiding the need for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) permissions.
Under this scheme, letters and parcels from Royal Mail’s Kirkwall delivery office will be transported to Stromness. From there, Skyports Drone Services will take over, using drones to deliver the mail to Royal Mail personnel on Graemsay and Hoy islands. Subsequently, the local postal workers will carry out their usual delivery routes on these islands.
“We are proud to be working with Skyports to deliver via drone to some of the more remote communities that we serve in the UK,” said Chris Paxton, Head of Drone Trials at Royal Mail.
Orkney’s weather and landscape can sometimes disrupt smooth deliveries. For instance, bad weather often leads to interruptions in the ferry schedule, which is commonly used for mail transportation, due to the challenges of docking safely. However, the I-Port operation significantly enhances the quality of service and accessibility for rural communities, considerably reducing delivery times to Graemsay and Hoy.
This shift to electric drones for inter-island deliveries also has substantial safety benefits. It ensures that postal workers can transport mail between ports and marinas across Orkney without encountering risks. Moreover, there will be reductions in emissions, contributing to environmental preservation.
Skyports Drone Services will carry out these inter-island flights using the Speedbird Aero DLV-2 aircraft. This multirotor drone has the capacity to transport payloads of up to 6 kg.
Alex Brown, Director, Skyports Drone Services, added, “We’re pleased to once again be partnering with Royal Mail to demonstrate how drone operations can benefit UK logistics on this project.”
Royal Mail Program Partner Received Funding From Freight Innovation Fund Accelerator
The I-Port project is among the nine selected initiatives of the Freight Innovation Fund Accelerator. This program, funded by the Department for Transport and managed by the Connected Places Catapult, offers financial support and business guidance to pioneers in the field. Skyports received a grant of £150,000 to trial the Orkney I-Port operation as a part of this initiative.
These types of groundbreaking collaborations highlight another example of the innovative application of drone delivery technology to reach remote and challenging locations.
As the world continues to explore fresh ways of bridging geographical divides, drones have emerged as a powerful solution that goes beyond mail delivery.
This initiative sets an example for future endeavors that can harness drone technology’s potential to enhance connectivity and accessibility in remote regions, ultimately paving the way for improved services across hard-to-reach destinations.
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