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May 10, 2021

Royal Mail trials autonomous drone delivery in UK

UK’s Royal Mail is set to test the use of drones to autonomously deliver parcels to the Isles of Scilly located in southwest England.

By Tech Monitor

Royal Mail drone
The drones will deliver personal protective equipment (PPE), Covid testing kits and other mail to the Scilly Isles. Credit: Chris Gorman / Royal Mail Group Limited.

UK’s Royal Mail is set to test the use of drones to autonomously deliver parcels to the Isles of Scilly located in southwest England.

This will mark the first out-of-sight, autonomous scheduled drone flight used between the UK mainland and an island.

The project will see use of Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flights for delivering personal protective equipment (PPE), Covid testing kits and other mail to the Scilly Isles. Also, the trial will involve inter-island parcel deliveries across the island.

Funded by the government, the trial is designed in alliance with Skyports, DronePrep, Consortiq, Excalibur Healthcare Services, University of Southampton and Windracers.

The initial aim is to help address the Covid-19 pandemic via delivery of PPE and testing kits to most vulnerable and remote communities on Scilly Isles.

A Windracers UAV will fly parcels to the islands’ airport in St Mary’s. This drone can carry up to 100kg of mail at a time, which is equal to a typical delivery round.

A smaller Skyports drone will be used for delivery to multiple points across the islands.

The autonomous flight route of UAV will be about 70 miles out of sight before reaching its destination.

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

The trial will also assess fuel efficiencies the drones could deliver, in line with the company’s aim to lower emissions related to its operations.

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.”

In December last year, Royal Mail used drone to deliver a parcel for recipients at a remote lighthouse on the Isle of Mull in Scotland.

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