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Royal Mail will start using drones to deliver packages

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Royal Mail is delivering health and safety equipment to the Isles of Scilly. (Credits: PA)
Royal Mail is delivering health and safety equipment to the Isles of Scilly. (Credits: PA)

Royal Mail is to trial the use of drones to deliver health and safety equipment, Covid testing kits and other items to the Isles of Scilly.

The company said it will be first time an out-of-sight, autonomous scheduled drone flight has been used between the UK mainland and an island.

Part of the trial will also include inter-island parcel deliveries across the Scillies.

Parcels will be flown to the islands’ airport in St Mary’s by drone which can carry up to 220lb (100kg) of mail at a time – equivalent to a typical delivery round.

A smaller drone will then be used to transport items to a number of delivery points throughout the islands.

The autonomous flight route involves being around 70 miles (113km) out of sight before it reaches its destination.


Royal Mail said it will be first time an out-of-sight, autonomous scheduled drone flight has been used between the UK mainland and an island. (Credits: PA)
Royal Mail said it will be first time an out-of-sight, autonomous scheduled drone flight has been used between the UK mainland and an island. (Credits: PA)

Royal Mail said if the trial is successful, the technology will be considered to support postmen and postwomen in delivering to remote areas across the UK.

The trial will also examine what fuel efficiencies the drones could provide, as part of the company’s drive to reduce emissions associated with its operations.

Amy Richards, a postwoman on the Isles of Scilly, said: ‘There are some really remote areas on these islands, and this is a terrific way to help us reach them.

‘It’s really important for us to do all we can to help all areas of the country stay connected, especially in these difficult times.’


Embargoed to 0001 Monday May 10 Undated handout photo issued by Royal Mail of their new drone programme, which they are to trial on delivering health and safety equipment, Covid testing kits and other items to the Isles of Scilly. Issue date: Monday May 10, 2021. PA Photo. The company said it will be first time an out-of-sight, autonomous scheduled drone flight has been used between the UK mainland and an island. See PA story INDUSTRY Mail. Photo credit should read: Royal Mail/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Covid testing kits and other items will be flown to the Isles of Scilly. (Credits: PA)

Royal Mail chief commercial officer Nick Landon said: ‘This is part of our constant drive to incorporate the best and most innovative technologies into our network.

‘We’ve seen a huge increase in parcel volumes since the start of the pandemic, and this is just one of the ways we are looking to support our postmen and postwomen in delivering fast and convenient services for all of our customers while reducing our carbon emissions.’

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said: ‘The UK is already a world leader when it comes to innovation in aviation and today’s announcement is an exciting step forward for Royal Mail.

‘The Future Flight Challenge is offering real-life solutions for significant issues such as public health, by bringing together innovative technologies.

‘This is crucial as we look to build back better and tackle climate change.’

The Government-funded project, which has been developed in partnership with DronePrep, Skyports, Consortiq Limited, the University of Southampton, Excalibur Healthcare Services and Windracers Limited, will initially focus on delivering personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing kits to the islands’ most vulnerable and remote communities.


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