This is why Orkney, with its challenging geography and unfriendly weather, was the perfect candidate for a pilot project regarding drone delivery. The Royal Mail, the Orkney Islands Council Harbor Authority, and Loganair will test a new way of delivering mail together with Skyports Drone Services.
Initially, the inter-island mail distribution service will only focus on three locations across Orkney. During three months, mail will be delivered daily via ground and drone transportation. The mail will travel from Kirkwall to a hub in Stromness on the ground; drones will take it further on the Royal Mail route.
This will kick off in the second quarter of this year and hopefully be extended after the first three months.
In addition to that, Skyports will also explore shore-to-ship operations. This is part of the Orkney I-Port operation, a pioneering project for fully-electric drone logistics. It even claims to be the first of its kind in the UK that has the potential to convert into regular services under the current regulations.
Skyports Drone Services is a previous winner of the Freight Innovation Fund Accelerator. The company was founded in 2018, and it has a strong focus on dedicated eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) infrastructure as well.
On the one hand, Skyports is a pioneering vertiport developer. It unveiled the world’s first vertiport, a demonstration project in Marina Bay, Singapore, in 2019. It’s currently building one near Paris, which could become the first vertiport in Europe, and bringing several of them to Los Angeles.
On the other hand, the Skyports Drone Services branch was designed to improve connectivity for people living in challenging environments such as Orkney.
Orkney I-Port isn’t Skyport’s first endeavor in Scotland. In 2022, the company launched a similar program. In that case, drones were used for delivering school meals, not mail. In both cases, all-electric cargo drones could tremendously improve connectivity for rural island areas, saving time and money.
This is a milestone for the freight sector in the UK. If things go well, people in Orkney could get their mail delivered by drones on a daily basis.