Skyports Drone Services is to launch drone delivery services in Orkney, Scotland in partnership with Royal Mail.
This fully electric drone logistics I-Port project also involves the Orkney Islands Council Harbour Authority, and aviation company Loganair and is being funded by the UK Government.
The Orkney Islands’ geography and harsh weather conditions impact the ability to provide an uninterrupted delivery service, and pauses in the ferry schedule are common during poor weather due to the challenges of docking safely.
Skyports Drone Services is to establish a daily inter-island mail distribution service, initially operating between three locations across Orkney for three months, with the intent to extend.
Post will be delivered by ground transportation from Kirkwall to a Stromness hub and transported by drone to Royal Mail sites on Graemsay and the North of Hoy, from where postal workers will carry out their usual island delivery routes.
The project’s shore-to-ship flight operations will aim to demonstrate the benefit of a seamless link between Orkney Islands Council Harbour Authority and vessels in its port, providing logistics for several use-cases, including delivery of documentation and provisions and the transportation of bunker samples.
Alongside the demonstration, Skyports Drone Services will conduct a feasibility study in partnership with Loganair to explore the future of heavy payload operations in Orkney.
This new service is set to launch before July this year. Skyports believes it will provide considerable benefits, including time, cost, and emission savings, and improved connectivity for island residents.
Alex Brown, director at Skyports Drone Services said, “Orkney is just one example of a hard-to-reach location that will benefit significantly from regular recurring drone operations. We’re looking forward to showcasing how our flights can improve existing services on the island, improve connectivity for residents, and support the work of Orkney’s postal staff.”
Chris Paxton, head of drone trials at Royal Mail said, “Using a fully electric drone on a permanent basis supports Royal Mail’s continued drive to reduce emissions associated with our operations, whilst connecting the island communities we deliver to.”