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UK’s Royal Mail starts drone deliveries in Orkney

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The use of electric drones for this purpose aligns with the goal of reducing environmental impact. — Royal Mail/Files
The use of electric drones for this purpose aligns with the goal of reducing environmental impact. — Royal Mail/Files

Starting Tuesday, the Scottish isles of Orkney will witness the pioneering use of drones for regular postal deliveries, marking a significant milestone in aerial mail service in the UK.

 Royal Mail’s Kirkwall delivery office will transport letters and packages via drones to Stromness, where the aerial devices will then carry out deliveries to postal workers on Graemsay and Hoy.

 These postal workers will continue their usual delivery routes, ensuring that the mail reaches its recipients.

Alistair Carmichael, the MP for Orkney and Shetland, expressed his support for this new initiative, emphasising its potential to maintain universal service, particularly in hard-to-reach areas of the isles. 

Royal Mail recognises the importance of its role in keeping the islands connected and acknowledges that local knowledge and care are vital to ensuring a robust postal network.

The introduction of the drone service is expected to significantly enhance service levels and delivery times to Graemsay and Hoy, where challenging weather conditions and geography have caused disruptions to traditional delivery methods. 

Initially planned for a three-month trial, the service could become a permanent fixture given Orkney’s unique landscape and the close proximity of the islands.

Collaborating with Skyports Drone Services, Royal Mail aims to ensure the safety of postal workers by facilitating inter-island deliveries without any risks associated with emissions-producing vehicles.

 The use of electric drones for this purpose aligns with the goal of reducing environmental impact and promoting efficiency in remote communities.

The concept of drone delivery has seen progress globally, with Reykjavik being the site of the world’s first drone delivery service in 2017. Since then, other areas have embraced similar innovations. 

In the UK, the pharmacy chain Boots made history in 2022 by delivering prescription medicines via drones from Thorney Island to the Isle of Wight, further illustrating the growing potential of drone technology in logistics and delivery services.

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