Flying robots delivering the mail may not be as good as jetpacks but they're still pretty futuristic – Scotsman comment

The name of Scottish indie rock band We Were Promised Jetpacks expresses a disappointment that the promises of the past about a bright new future have not been kept, a sense of loss for what might have been.

It was taken from a podcast by comedian Ricky Gervais, the band revealed, although the actual quote was “we were promised hovercrafts” – they chose jetpacks because they thought it “sounded cooler”.

And it’s fair to say that some of the wilder predictions of shows like the BBC's Tomorrow’s World – such as the widespread use of paper pants, floating bicycles, and a culinary craze for worms – have not come to pass. At least, not yet.

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However, even though the idea that flying robots would deliver the mail would have seemed far-fetched not so very long ago, Royal Mail is now planning to launch a fleet of drones to make deliveries on 50 new routes over the next three years. Shetland, Orkney and the Hebrides will see some of the first of the new services.

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Royal Mail drone fleet takes to the air for remote Scottish island deliveries

This is, to a degree, a case of back to the future. For, in 1934, a German engineer called Gerhard Zucker made two unsuccessful attempts to deliver mail by rocket between the islands of Scarp and Harris. A pile of scorched envelopes can still be seen in the island’s museum, testimony to a shattered dream and unfulfilled promise.

However, nearly 90 years later, while most of us still don’t have jetpacks or hovercrafts, mail is about to start being delivered in a most futuristic way.

One of the Royal Mail drones that is set to start making postal deliveries takes off (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith)
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