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First Ever Drone Mail Service Begins in Orkney

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Royal Mail and Skyports Drone Services in partnership have launched the Orkney I-Port operation, which is the UK’s first drone delivery service, to deliver mail across the Orkney Islands, a remote group of Islands off the coast of Northeast Scotland.  

The weather and geography of Orkney can impact the ability to provide reliable mail services, so the drone service should be able to improve services. 

How will the drone service work?

The service is to operate for three months initially, with plans to continue the service in the future. The close proximity of the Orkney Islands allows for drone flights to work successfully. Letters and parcels will be transported from Royal Mail’s Kirkwall delivery office to Stromness, from where Skyports Drone Services will conduct drone deliveries to Royal Mail staff on Graemsay and Hoy, with the drones used being able to carry up to 6kg. From these locations, postal workers will then carry out their usual island delivery routes. 

The I-Port operation was one of nine winning projects of the Freight Innovation Fund Acceleration, funded by the Department for Transport, receiving £150,000 of grant funding to test the operation. 

The benefits of a drone delivery service 

Residents of Orkney often experience unreliable mail service as the weather can often cause disruption to delivery services, with ships unable to travel between islands. Therefore, drone services will benefit the residents of Orkney as highlighted by Alistair Carmichael MP for Orkney and Shetland, who said “Anything that helps to maintain the universal service, especially in areas of the isles which are more difficult to reach, is something that we should give a chance to support. Royal Mail remains a critical part of keeping the isles connected – and local knowledge and care are vital to that network.” 

The use of electric drones for delivery between islands will also bring significant safety improvements by ensuring postal workers can deliver between ports without any risk. 

Final Thought

Developments in drone technology are advancing rapidly and these new drone flights look to be a reliable source of mail delivery in a remote area of Scotland, demonstrating the benefits of a Government funded innovation project. Further investment into such areas should lead to smoother delivery of mail for the population. 

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