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Royal Mail has made UK’s first drone package delivery on a Scottish island

Royal Mail
Image credits: Royal Mail

Back in 2015, Royal Mail’s Chief executive Moya Greene wanted to use drone deliveries and driverless vans in an attempt to join the airborne parcel bandwagon. Fast forward to 2020, Royal Mail becomes the first UK parcel service to use a drone (UAV) to transport the parcel. 

As a part of the process, Royal Mail joined forces with DronePrep, Skyports, and tech firm what3words for its initial drone delivery to a remote lighthouse on the Isle of Mull this month.

Exploring viability of using drones

With this programme, the company is exploring the viability of using drones to deliver to rural communities on the Isle of Mull. It’s worth noting that Skyports is already using its drones to help NHS Scotland with the response to COVID-19.

Like any other deliveries across the UK, the postcode will route the parcel towards its destination. The local postie will then use drone delivery to reach the most remote locations in their patch faster. 

3 metre by 3 metre square

Then, the residents on the Isle of Mull will be invited to use the DronePrep platform to assess the viability of their property for drone delivery and pinpoint a suitable landing location within their own using the what3words integration.

As a result, Royal Mail is asking recipients to provide the what3words address, a 3 metre by 3 metre square, that corresponds to the precise landing point for delivery of Royal Mail parcels via the drone from the Royal Mail van.

Tom Nunn, the local postman for the Isle of Mull, said: “I am very pleased to be involved in this fantastic trial. It is an exciting opportunity to test out new ways of working to support us posties that deliver in some of the most remote areas of the UK. Some of the houses on the Isle of Mull include a thirty-minute walk to the front door so the use of drones will be a huge help!”

Nick Landon, Chief Commercial Officer at Royal Mail, said: “Delivering the first live parcel in the UK by an unmanned drone was a landmark day for us. We’ve seen a huge increase in parcel volumes this year and this is just one of the ways we are looking at to support our frontline delivery staff and deliver fast, convenient and green services for all of our customers.”

Gareth Whatmore, CEO of DronePrep & Consortia Lead, said: “Our collaboration with our superb partners Royal Mail, Skyports, what3words and the residents of the Isle of Mull is a huge opportunity for us all to learn more about how drones can complement and supplement existing Royal Mail delivery services. We are both delighted and proud to lead on this innovative collaborative project and for the DronePrep platform to help in determining future UAV flight and delivery opportunity for Royal Mail and the local community.”

 Chris Sheldrick, co-founder of what3words added: “By labelling every 3m square in the UK with three words – a what3words address – recipients are very easily able to communicate their desired drone delivery location. 2020 has demonstrated the need for fast, reliable deliveries and what3words is a perfect tool to assist Royal Mail on their mission to continue to innovate.”