Zomato just took the lead in drone delivery in India

The drone used for Zomato's aerial delivery test
  • In a test delivery, Zomato carried out a delivery of 5 kgs for a distance of 5 kilometres within 10 minutes.
  • Zomato had earlier acquired TechEagle Innovation, a drone startup.
  • Zomato is forming a consortium as per DGCA’s guidelines to carry out experimental Beyond Visual Line Of Sight operations.
Indian foodtech unicorn Zomato has just announced a successful test delivery using drones in India.

In the run, the drone covered a distance of 5 kilometres in about 10 minutes, with a peak speed of 80 kmph, carrying a load of 5 kgs.

“The only possible way to reduce the average 30.5 minutes to 15 minutes is to take the aerial route – roads are not efficient for very fast delivery. We have been working towards building sustainable and safe delivery technology and with our first successful test, food delivery by drones is no longer just a pipe dream,” said Deepinder Goyal, founder and CEO, Zomato.

The company said that the drone has inbuilt sensors and an onboard computer to sense and avoid static and dynamic objects, enabling autonomous flights.

“They are also capable of taking off vertically like a helicopter, transiting to an airplane mode to cover the distance and then switching back to helicopter mode for vertical landing without requiring any airstrip,” said Zomato.

Zomato had acquired TechEagle innovation, a drone startup in December 2018, leading to their experiments with drones.

The government too has been paving way for the entry of drones. In 2016, the government announced a new draft policy, under which it proposed to set up a dedicated drone corridor, create drone ports and allow 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in manufacturing the remotely piloted aircraft in the country. This policy also hinted at making room for aerial delivery of goods in India.

However, even after the legalization of the drones (as a ban was lifted), drones still fall in the gray area in terms of government policy.

Goyal said that regulatory hurdles are not trivial, and the government’s concerns need to be looked at from various points of view, even as the technology is ready to fly.

Zomato is now looking to comply with the laws to incorporate drones into food delivery. “Zomato is forming a consortium as per DGCA’s guidelines to carry out experimental Beyond Visual Line Of Sight operations,” the company said.

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