Royal Mail plans fleet of 500 drones for rural deliveries

British postal service Royal Mail is planning to use a fleet of 500 drones for deliveries to rural locations.

The pandemic reminded many of us of the vital role the humble postie plays in keeping people connected. However, many rural communities struggle to access the services we often take for granted due to their location.

Royal Mail wants to change that and has identified over 50 postal routes it wants to create using drones over the next three years.

The company is partnering with logistics drone firm Windracers on the effort and the first routes identified for the service include the Isles of Scilly, Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands, and the Hebrides.

Royal Mail plans a fleet of 500 drones for rural deliveries
British postal service Royal Mail plans to use a fleet of 500 drones to deliver to rural areas.
The pandemic has reminded many of us of the important role the humble postie plays in keeping people connected. However, many rural communities struggle to access services that we often take for granted due to their location.

Royal Mail wants to change that and has identified more than 50 postal routes it wants to operate with drones in the next three years.

The company is partnering with Windracers logistics drones in this effort, and the first routes identified for operation include the Isles of Scilly, the Shetland Islands, the Orkney Islands, and the Hebrides. Royal Mail has carried out four tests over the past 18 months. The most recent test was carried out last month in the Shetland Islands, where the drone made a 50-mile flight (each way) between Tingwall Airport in Lerwick to Unst.

In the test, a twin-engine UAV with an autopilot system was used for flight. At the destination, the drone is unloaded and letters and packages are delivered to the local post office. Each UAV can carry up to 100 kg of mail of all shapes and sizes. As well as helping to connect rural communities, Royal Mail believes UAVs will help it reduce its carbon emissions.