Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, was in North Ronaldsay today (Monday) to witness the drone trials being undertaken by the Royal Mail and various partners.
A two-week trial is currently underway involving scheduled, autonomous flights between Kirkwall and North Ronaldsay to help understand how connections with remote island communities can be improved and emissions reduced. Up to 100kg of letters and parcels are being carried by a large, twin-engine, UK-built unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) named 'Ultra'.
The trial is part of the Sustainable Aviation Test Environment (Sate) project based at Kirkwall Airport, led by Windracers Ltd. It is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and has support from Orkney Islands Council.
Commenting on the trial flight , Mr McArthur said:
"For some time now, Orkney has been at the forefront of pioneering low-carbon innovation. The drone trials being undertaken by Royal Mail and its partners are yet another example of this in practice.
"We know that ensuring good connectivity and access to services is vital in supporting rural and island communities. Initiatives like this one help pave the way for sustaining and improving those connections in future.
"It is early days still for this particular project and a lot of learning still to be done. However, it was great to be able to see first-hand the drone in operation and I look forward to seeing how this exciting project develops over the months ahead."