Royal Mail pilots parcel drone deliveries

In launching its first drone delivery flight to a lighthouse on the Isle of Mull in Scotland, so Royal Mail has become the UK’s first national postal operator to offer a drone delivery service.

The operations are in partnership with drone companies DronePrep and Skysports alongside addressing tech company what3words.

The delivery to the lighthouse is the first step in a pilot to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of drone deliveries to remote communities. The package will be routed towards the postcode through ground and sea channels, when the postal delivery staff will fly the drone the final mile to an exact what3words designated three-square-metre location that has been set by the recipient community.

Nick Landon, Chief Commercial Officer at Royal Mail, said: “Delivering the first live parcel in the UK by an unmanned drone was a landmark day for us. We are incredibly proud to be working with DronePrep, Skyports and what3words to trial new ways to support the more remote and isolated communities we serve. This is part of our constant drive to incorporate the best innovative technologies into our network. We’ve seen a huge increase in parcel volumes this year and this is just one of the ways we are looking at to support our frontline delivery staff and deliver fast, convenient and green services for all of our customers.”

Gareth Whatmore, CEO of DronePrep & Consortia Lead, said: “In the last couple of years, drone technology has matured and with it the industry’s ability to solve real world challenges. Our collaboration with our superb partners Royal Mail, Skyports, what3words and the residents of the Isle of Mull is a huge opportunity for us all to learn more about how drones can complement and supplement existing Royal Mail delivery services. We are both delighted and proud to lead on this innovative collaborative project and for the DronePrep platform to help in determining future UAV flight and delivery opportunity for Royal Mail and the local community.”

Chris Sheldrick, co-founder of what3words added: “By labelling every 3m square in the UK with three words – a what3words address – recipients are very easily able to communicate their desired drone delivery location. Our technology perfectly complements traditional addresses, but by adding a layer of accuracy when needed. 2020 has demonstrated the need for fast, reliable deliveries and what3words is a perfect tool to assist Royal Mail on their mission to continue to innovate.”

Duncan Walker, Chief Executive of Skyports, said: “We are delighted to contribute our experience of flying delivery drones for the NHS around the Isle of Mull to this exciting project.  Delivery drones are already proven as a fast and reliable solution for transporting packages to poorly connected rural communities.  This trial with Royal Mail, what3words and DronePrep has the potential to lay the foundations for a future service to complement the one provided by Royal Mail’s hard-working posties that we rely on today.”

Share