Royal Mail has started delivering mail using drones in Orkney in what is believed to be the first in the UK.
It has joined forces with Skyports Drone Services to launch the Orkney I-Port operation, in partnership with Orkney Islands Council Harbour Authority and Loganair, for a daily inter-island distribution service between three islands on Orkney.
Using drone technology will enable Royal Mail to provide its services more efficiently while reducing the requirement for emissions-producing vehicles.
The project, claimed to be the first drone delivery project that can be conducted on a permanent basis under existing regulatory frameworks, will initially run for three months, with plans to extend in the future.
Letters and parcels will be transported from Royal Mail’s Kirkwall delivery office to Stromness, from where Skysports Drone Services will conduct the drone deliveries to staff on Graemsay and Hoy.
Royal Mail postal workers will then carry out their usual island delivery routes from these locations.
The inter-island flights will be conducted using the Speedbird Aero DLV-2 aircraft, a multi-rotor drone capable of carrying payloads of up to 6kg.
Chris Paxton, Head of Drone Trials at Royal Mail said: “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.
“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 is funded by the Department for Transport’s Freight Innovation Fund.