Royal Mail has launched a trial on a new mode of parcel deliver this week.

Drones are being used to deliver post to a remote island as part of moves to reduce carbon emissions.

The company has started a two-week trial of scheduled, autonomous flights between Kirkwall and North Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands with Windracers Ltd to help better connect remote island communities.

The mail is being carried by a large, twin-engine, UK-built unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) named Ultra which can transport 100kg of post of all shapes and sizes – equivalent to a typical delivery round.

Letters and parcels will be delivered by the local postie in the usual way when they reach the island, which is further north than the southern tip of Norway and is home to around 70 people.

Royal Mail issue statement

Nick Landon, chief commercial officer at Royal Mail, said: “At Royal Mail we care about delivering a brilliant service for all of our customers, wherever they live in the UK. We are also incredibly passionate about protecting our diverse and beautiful environments.

“This trial is designed to help with both of these goals, using the most innovative technologies to support the remote and isolated communities we serve in the greenest way possible.

“The trialling of drone technologies is just one of the ways we are supporting our postmen and postwomen to deliver an amazing service, while reducing our carbon emissions.”

If the trial is a success, the drones may be considered as a way of supporting postmen  and postwomen who are delivering to the most remote areas in the UK.

Sarah Moore, local postwoman for North Ronaldsay, said: “It’s really exciting to be involved in this trial.

“North Ronaldsay is a very remote area of the UK and I’m proud to be involved in an initiative that will help Royal Mail to do all we can to keep all areas of the UK connected.”

This is the third drone trial that Royal Mail has taken part in over the last year.

In December 2020, Royal Mail delivered a parcel via drone to a remote lighthouse on the Isle of Mull, which it said was a first for a nationwide UK parcel carrier.

In May 2021 it trialled an out of sight drone parcel delivery with Windracers Ltd, and the first inter-island deliveries on the Isles of Scilly which it also described as UK firsts.

The trial between Kirkwall and North Ronaldsay began on Monday and runs until Friday October 15, with flights taking place on weekdays.