Royal Mail has launched its third drone trial in the last year for remote communities. The company is trialling scheduled, autonomous, uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) flights with Windracers for two weeks between Kirkwall and North Ronaldsay (both in the Orkney Islands). It will help better connect the islands and the community of around 70 people on North Ronaldsay, carrying mail via UAV from Kirkwall Airport.
The trial is part of the Sustainable Aviation Test Environment (SATE) project, based at Kirkwall Airport in the Orkney Islands in Scotland, which is looking at how this technology can be used to provide both more reliable and lower emission connections.
In December 2020, Royal Mail became the first nationwide UK parcel carrier to deliver a parcel for recipients via drone to a remote lighthouse on the Isle of Mull in Scotland. In May 2021, Royal Mail delivered two more UK firsts: the first UK parcel delivery beyond visual line of sight and the first inter-island deliveries on the Isles of Scilly.
The Windracers ULTRA UAV can carry 100kg of mail of all shapes and sizes, equivalent to a typical delivery round. If the trial is successful, the technology will be considered by Royal Mail to support postmen and postwomen in delivering to very remote areas and addresses across the UK.
Nick Landon, chief commercial officer at Royal Mail, said: “At Royal Mail we care about delivering a brilliant service for all of our customers, wherever they live in the UK. We are also incredibly passionate about protecting our diverse and beautiful environments. This trial is designed to help with both of these goals, using the most innovative technologies to support the remote and isolated communities we serve in the greenest way possible.”