Royal Mail aims to open up to 50 drone routes for rural deliveries

British Want to set up to 50 Routes for delivering goods to remote communities over the next three years. Subject to approval from the Civil Aviation Authority, the service will protect up to 200 autonomous devices of logistics drone company Windracers.

Royal Mail said the first communities to benefit would be the Isles of Scilly (off the coast of Cornwall in south west England) and the Scottish Isles of Shetland, Orkney and Hebrides.

At its most recent meeting in April this year, the service was able to use drones to deliver mail from Tinwall Airport, the largest island in the Shetland Islands, to Unst, the UK’s most northern inhabited island. That’s a 50-mile flight one way.

The twin-engine drone used in the test can carry a payload of up to 100 kilograms of mail and make two return flights a day. The Royal Mail says the device has a wingspan of 10 metres and can withstand harsh weather conditions with the help of its self-driving system. Once the drone reaches its destination, postal workers will retrieve the mail and packages and deliver them.

Royal Mail claims drones will help it reduce carbon emissions and provide more reliable deliveries to the islands. It eventually hopes to have a fleet of more than 500 drones operating across the UK.

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