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The Future of Mail Delivery: Skyports Electric Drones Take Flight in Orkney

Stuart Ross |

Introduction to Electric Drones in Orkney

In a groundbreaking move, Royal Mail has joined forces with Skyports Drone Services to introduce a revolutionary drone delivery system in Orkney. This initiative, named the Orkney I-Port operation, is a collaborative effort with the Orkney Islands Council Harbour Authority and Loganair.

The primary objective of this venture is to facilitate daily mail distribution between three islands within Orkney. Initially set to run for a three-month period, there are plans to extend this innovative service based on its success. What sets this project apart is its distinction as the first UK drone delivery service that can operate continuously under the current regulatory guidelines. This is possible due to Orkney's unique geographical layout and the closeness of its islands, allowing for extended visual line of sight (EVLOS) flights, as opposed to the more restrictive beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) permissions.

The delivery process is streamlined and efficient. Mail items are first transported from Royal Mail’s Kirkwall office to Stromness. From there, Skyports Drone Services takes over, using drones to deliver the mail to Royal Mail personnel stationed on the islands of Graemsay and Hoy. Once received, local postal workers continue with their regular delivery routes on the islands.

One of the major challenges in Orkney has been the unpredictable weather, which often disrupts the ferry schedule, a common mode of mail transport. Difficulties in docking safely during adverse weather conditions can lead to delays. However, the introduction of the I-Port operation promises to enhance service quality and accessibility for the rural communities of Orkney. Not only does it drastically reduce delivery times to Graemsay and Hoy, but it also ensures safer deliveries, especially between ports and marinas. Additionally, the use of electric drones emphasizes a commitment to environmental sustainability, with notable reductions in emissions.

The drones employed for these inter-island deliveries are the Speedbird Aero DLV-2 aircrafts, designed to carry payloads weighing up to 6kg. This initiative has garnered recognition, with the I-Port being one of the nine projects to win the Freight Innovation Fund Accelerator.

In conclusion, the collaboration between Royal Mail and Skyports Drone Services is a testament to the potential of technology in reshaping traditional systems. With the successful implementation of this project, the future of mail delivery in the UK and beyond looks promising.