We’ve heard delivery services talk about using drones to deliver parcels in the future. The first delivery of parcels has been completed via Royal Mail in the UK using an autonomous drone. The two packages were delivered to the Scilly Isles.
Royal Mail says the delivery means it is the first UK parcel carrier to deliver mail to a UK island via a 70-mile out-of-sight autonomous flight. The items delivered via the flight included COVID testing kits, personal protective equipment, and other mail. The project was government-funded and developed in partnership with DronePrep, Skyports, Consortiq Limited, University of Southampton, Excalibur Healthcare Services, and Windracers Limited.
Authorities say that initially, the drone-based deliveries will focus on helping to fight the pandemic by delivering crucial PPE and testing kits to the most vulnerable and remote communities on the islands. The drone used for the deliveries is made by Windracers and can accommodate mail of most shapes and sizes.
General mail will be transported to the islands as part of the trial. Parcels are flown to the airport serving the islands in St. Mary’s using a twin-engine Windracers UAV. The drone can carry 100 kilograms of mail at a time, which is equivalent to a typical delivery round. A smaller vertical takeoff drone operated by Skyports is then used to transport items to several delivery points around the island chain.
The route the autonomous drone takes spans approximately 70 miles out of sight before it reaches its island destination. Officials say the UAVs will complement existing forms of transportation for mail to the Isles of Scilly. So far, the drones have operated in poor weather conditions, including fog, and aren’t dependent on tides. If the trial is successful, Royal Mail will consider the technology to identify opportunities to support normal delivery methods in very remote areas and addresses around the UK.