Six months after acquiring Lucknow-based drone startup TechEagle Innovations to experiment with drone-based delivery of food orders, Zomato today announced of successfully testing the technology through a hybrid drone that covered a distance of 5 km at a top speed of 80 kmph. The drone carried a payload of 5 kg and covered the distance in around 10 minutes.
The drone, in its final design, is lightweight, has inbuilt sensors and fixed with an onboard computer to sense and avoid static and dynamic objects even as the drone can take off and land vertically, the company said in a statement. In the early phase of air deliveries, the drone would pick and drop food parcels from a restaurant hub, which is a dispatch station around a cluster of restaurants, to a customer hub — a landing station close to dense communities.
Drone deliveries can significantly mark a shift in the way logistics work in online food ordering by reducing not just time but also manpower cost. For Zomato, it would cut the average delivery time “from 30.5 minutes to 15 minutes,” founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal said, adding that the regulatory concerns around drone “need to be looked at from various (valid) points of view.
While Goyal didn’t disclose the timeline for drone delivery to turn reality but he highlighted that it will be “commonplace sooner rather than later.”
“Drone deliveries would cut the delivery cost by 60 per cent cost and time taken by 80 per cent. From 30 minutes on the road, it will take less than 10 minutes as you go from point-to-point without any interruption or delay unlike via road. Initially, for such deliveries, it will be door-to-hub and hub-to-door model. The average speed in all cases is between 40-60 kpmh,” Rahat Kulshreshtha, Treasurer, Drone Federation of India and founder and CEO, Quidich Innovation Labs (aerial cinematography & aerial sports broadcast company) told Financial Express Online.
While the drone, which combines rotary wings and fixed wings, is fully automated the company is currently testing every drone under the supervision of a remote pilot for safety. Going ahead, drones might fly without any supervision as more data is fed into them.
The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had in May this year asked the drone organisations or those using drones for their businesses to submit an Expression of Interest for doing experimental Beyond Visual Line of Sight flights of Unmanned Aircraft Systems or vehicles.
Zomato is currently setting up a consortium as per DGCA’s guidelines for BVLOS experiment.
India’s UAV market is expected to be worth $885.7 million while the global market size would be $21.47 billion by 2021, as per a FICCI-EY report last year.