The flight trials will use a large, twin-engine, UK-built Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle UAV named ULTRA.
The UAV has been designed, built and operated by Windracers Ltd to carry mail from Kirkwall Airport on the Orkney mainland to the island community of North Ronaldsay, a 35-mile flight each way.
Further north than the southern tip of Norway, North Ronaldsay is the most remote of the Orkney Islands. The trial will support the community of around 70 people on the island with a service that is expected to be less affected by poor weather, while reducing emissions.
The Windracers ULTRA UAV can carry 100kg of mail of all shapes and sizes – equivalent to a typical delivery round – enabling the transportation of all mail bound to and from the island community of North Ronaldsay.
Letters and parcels will then be delivered by the local postman in the usual way when they reach the island.
If the trial is successful, the technology will be considered by Royal Mail to support postmen and postwomen in delivering to very remote areas and addresses across the UK.
UAVs can fly in poor weather conditions, including fog, because they are uncrewed, and unlike boat services they are not affected by tides.
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Nick Landon, Chief Commercial Officer at Royal Mail, said: “At Royal Mail we care about delivering a brilliant service for all of our customers, wherever they live in the UK.
“We are also incredibly passionate about protecting our diverse and beautiful environments. This trial is designed to help with both of these goals, using the most innovative technologies to support the remote and isolated communities we serve in the greenest way possible.
“The trialling of drone technologies is just one of the ways we are supporting our postmen and postwomen to deliver an amazing service, while reducing our carbon emissions.”
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