"The partnership will facilitate and operate uncrewed drones, or UAVs (Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles), to provide faster and more convenient services for customers in remote communities," Royal Mail said in a statement.
The first routes identified for the new service include the Isles of Scilly, Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands and the Hebrides.
Subject to CAA approval and the on-going planned improvement in UAV economics, Royal Mail is aiming to secure more than 50 drone routes supported by up to 200 drones over the next three years. "Longer term, the ambition is to deploy a fleet of more than 500 drones servicing all corners of the UK," Royal Mail said.
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 off the Cornish coast and between Kirkwall and North Ronaldsay, on the Orkney Islands.
The latest trial was held in April on the Shetland Islands. Test flights for the new service saw Royal Mail deliver mail between Tingwall Airport in Lerwick to Unst - a 50-mile flight each way. Unst has a population of around 630 people and is Britain’s most northerly inhabited island.
With a capability to fly in difficult weather conditions, the twin-engine UAV used in the trial has a wingspan of 10 metres and incorporates a high-reliability autopilot system. They can carry up to 100 kilograms of mail of all shapes and sizes for two daily return flights between the islands. Letters and parcels are then delivered by the local postie.
© aero.uk | Image: Royal Mai | 12/05/2022 11:50