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Featured Image Credit: PA/Royal Mail
Royal Mail wants to add 50 more drones to its fleet of 500 over the next three years in order to create added 'postal drone routes'.
The UK postal service has partnered up with drone company Windracers with plans to further reduce Royal Mail's carbon emissions while improving reliability to delivering parcels on time.
Royal Mail has said that the move will provide faster and more convenient services for remote communities.
It wants to eventually move away from current services, which include ferries, conventional aircraft and land-based delivery.
The first routes for the new service include the Isles of Scilly, Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands and the Hebrides.
Royal Mail said it was aiming to use up to 200 drones over the next three years, which would mean an increase to just over 500 that will service across the UK.
Throughout the past 18 months, the postal service has conducted four drone trials, including flights on the Isle of Mull in Scotland, the Isles of Scilly off the Cornish coast and between Kirkwall and North Ronaldsay on the Orkney Islands.
Test flights for the new service have been held between Tingwall Airport in Lerwick and Unst – a 50-mile flight each way.
Drones used in the trial can carry up to 100kg of mail for two daily return flights between the islands, with letters and parcels then delivered by the local postman or woman.
Chris Paxton, head of drone trials at Royal Mail, told the BBC: "They are able to take off in a relatively short space and land in a similar short area.
"So they are capable of landing on fields, providing the the area is flat enough.
"They are very much like a small plane.
"And the only difference is there isn't a pilot on board."
Simon Thompson, chief executive of Royal Mail, said: "On-time delivery regardless of our customers’ location or the weather, whilst protecting our environment, is our goal.
"Even though we go everywhere, Royal Mail already has the lowest CO2 emissions per parcel delivered.
"This initiative will help reduce our emissions even further."
Stephen Wright, chairman of the Windracers Group, added: "The middle mile of supply and logistics, especially to remote locations, has long been overlooked by the industry and is ripe for innovation.
"We’ve spent the last five years focused on developing the most commercially viable essential logistics drones so we’re truly delighted to be working with Royal Mail on this ambitious and pioneering deployment of autonomous aircraft."
Topics: UK News