In a first one of India’s largest food delivery firms Zomato announced it has successfully tested a payload delivery from a hybrid drone.
Developed by TechEagle Innovations, which was acquired by Zomato last year, the drone carried a payload of 5 kgs (11 pounds) and covered 5 kms (3.1 miles) in 10 mins, said Deepinder Goyal, CEO of Zomato adding that it does not require any landing strip and is able to take-off and land vertically.The company aims to deliver food to customers in less than 15 minutes some day. The drone hit a peak speed of 80 kmph (49.7 mph). It was a non-commercial delivery.
“Fifteen minutes is only possible if we take the aerial route – roads are not efficient for very fast delivery. While our biker fleet nowadays delivers in 30.5 minutes on an average (which is the fastest in the industry as far as we know), every incremental minute with our fleet becomes harder as it separates our users from their ordered food,” Goyal said.
Announcing the maiden drone flight on twitter Goyal tweeted:
We successfully tested a hybrid drone 🛩️ – fusion of rotary wing and fixed wings on a single drone; covered 5 kms in 10 mins with a peak speed of 80 kmph; with a payload of 5kgs.
Exciting times ahead!
— Deepinder Goyal (@deepigoyal) June 12, 2019
“Although being fully automated, each drone is currently being tested with (remote) pilot supervision to ensure 100% safety. Over time, as we have more data, we might not need remote pilot supervision,” he added.
Zomato said it will form a consortium, in accordance with local government’s direction and the Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA’s) programme for conducting such trial, according to a report in The Indian Express.
Current regulations in India prohibit payload carriage on drones as well as drone operations outside visual line of sight and New Delhi expressed its concerns over firms that want to operate drones commercially in the nation. Last month, a government body asked interested stakeholders to express their interest in experimental use of drones that travel beyond visual line of sight. The government had said that the norms will be evolved with time as and when companies are able to exhibit newer technologies.
Businees today quoted Goyal, “While regulatory hurdles are not trivial, and the government’s concerns need to be looked at from various (valid) points of view, the tech is ready to fly and I am confident that drone delivery will be commonplace sooner rather than later.”
Zomato locked in an intense battle with heavily backed Swiggy for tent pole position in India’s food delivery market, remains optimistic. Goyal says, “Food delivery by drones is no longer just a pipe dream. It’s almost here.”
According to a report from Indian outlet Economic Times, Zomato is already in talks to raise approximately $1 billion.
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