Royal Mail plans delivery by drone

Royal Mail is planning to scale up its use of drone technology, creating more than 50 new postal drone routes over the next three years.

The plan is subject to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approval, and is part of a new partnership with Windracers, the logistics drone company.

The partnership involves uncrewed drones, or UAVs (Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles), to provide faster and more convenient services for customers in remote communities.

Royal Mail said the move will help further reduce its carbon emissions and improve the reliability of island mail services.

It currently uses ferries, conventional aircraft and land-based delivery, which can be affected by bad weather.

The first routes identified for the new service include the Isles of Scilly, and the Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands and the Hebrides in Scotland.

Over 200 drones would eventually be used to serve the planned routes. In the longer term, Royal Mail wants to deploy over 500 drones to serve all areas of the UK.

Royal Mail has already conducted four drone trials over the last 18 months, including flights on the Isle of Mull in Scotland, on the Isles of Scilly and between Kirkwall and North Ronaldsay on the Orkney Islands.

The latest trial was held last month on the Shetland Islands, in partnership with Windracers.

The twin-engine UAVs can carry up to 100kg of mail of all shapes and sizes. After landing the mail is delivered by local postal workers.

“On time delivery regardless of our customers’ location or the weather, whilst protecting our environment, is our goal,” said Simon Thompson, chief executive of Royal Mail.

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