Royal Mail launches UK's first drone delivery service in Scotland

The postal service says the deliveries could eliminate the risk posed by Orkney's regularly inclement conditions.

Parcels will soon be delivered to some of Scotland’s most remote communities by drone as part of a three-month trial of the service.

It’s the first UK project which can be conducted on a permanent basis under existing rules.

Mail will be transported from Royal Mail’s Kirkwall delivery office to Stromness from the Orkney I-Port, where the unmanned aerial craft will transport items to staff on Graemsay and Hoy to allow postal workers to carry out their usual island routes.

The postal service said the plans would “significantly improve” delivery times to Graemsay and Hoy in the face of regularly inclement weather.

The trial will last three months but could become a permanent fixture.Royal Mail / Skyports

Chris Paxton, head of Royal Mail’s drone trials, added the use of drones for inter-island journeys would “bring safety improvements” by ensuring postal workers can deliver between ports without risk alongside slashing emissions produced by either air or sea travel.

The scheme could become a permanent fixture if the pilot – launched in conjunction with Skyports Drone Services – proves successful.

Mr Paxton said: “We are proud to be working with Skyports to deliver via drone to some of the most remote communities that we serve in the UK.

“Using a fully electric drone supports Royal Mail’s continued drive to reduce emissions associated with our operations, whilst connecting the island communities we deliver to.”

The project has been funded by the Department for Transport’s Freight Innovation Fund and carried out by the Connected Places Catapult.

Orkney Islands Council Harbour Authority and Loganair have also partnered on the project.

Alex Brown, director of Skyports Drone Services, said: “By leveraging drone technology, we are revolutionising mail services in remote communities, providing more efficient and timely delivery, and helping to reduce the requirement for emissions-producing vehicles.

“We’re pleased to be once again partnering with Royal Mail to demonstrate how drone operations can benefit UK logistics on this project.”

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