Malvern software firm plays key role in helping Royal Mail deliver with drone technology

Royal Mail has joined forces with a consortium of drone companies – including DronePrep, based at Worcestershire’s technology accelerator BetaDen, Skyports and addressing technology what3words, to become the first UK parcel carrier to transport a parcel via an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

In a UK first, the consortium arranged an initial drone delivery to a remote lighthouse on the Isle of Mull this month.

This is the first step in a consultation programme and trial in the New Year, which will focus on engaging with the community to explore the viability of using drones to deliver to rural communities on the Isle of Mull, where Skyports is already using its drones to help NHS Scotland with the response to COVID-19.

This will help to identify opportunities to support Royal Mail staff in delivering to remote areas and addresses in the UK.

As with all Royal Mail deliveries across the UK, the postcode will route the parcel towards its destination. The local post officers will then use drone delivery to reach the most remote locations in their patch faster.

For the drone delivery, residents consulted 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 ownership using the what3words integration.

To enable this for the trial, 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.

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 are incredibly proud to be working with DronePrep, Skyports and what3words to trial new ways to support the more remote and isolated communities we serve.

“This is part of our constant drive to incorporate the best innovative technologies into our network. 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, said: “In the last couple of years, drone technology has matured and with it the industry’s ability to solve real world challenges. 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.”

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