Zomato wants to become one of the first Indian brands to start a fleet of drones for making deliveries. Amazon has been globally touted to be in the mix but for India, getting deliveries done via drones doesn’t sound like a far-fetched idea anymore.
The restaurant aggregator giant wants to set up its own platform for drone delivery, as soon as it gets the green flag from the government. To make this happen, Zomato on Wednesday announced it has acquired Lucknow-based startup TechEagle, which specialises in the drone delivery ecosystem.
Zomato’s intention coincides with India finally opening up a legal framework for drones, detailing the guidelines via Drone Regulations 1.0, required for a person to fly the unmanned flying devices.
Zomato has a clear plan in mind, “creating technology that will power a hub to hub delivery network powered by hybrid multi-rotor drones,” as mentioned in its statement.
"Our first ‘delivery job’ currently is to design multi-rotor drones that can pick up a payload under 5 kg and set up drone delivery circuits for reducing the last mile delivery leg. We believe that robots powering the last mile delivery is an inevitable part of the future and hence is going to be a significant area of investment for us.” " - Deepinder Goyal, Founder & CEO, Zomato
But Deepinder Goyal isn’t the first one to feel excited about the potential of airborne delivery via drones. Amazon’s chief Jeff Bezos has repeatedly talked of drone delivery and how his e-commerce venture is looking to use it.
He even mentioned about drone delivery taking off within five years, in an interview with CBS in 2013. We’re coming to the end of 2018, and drone deliveries are still limited to specific disaster management needs.
Instant delivery of consumer goods via drones till now is more of a hype. After all, drones with short battery life, and entering into private space might not appeal to everyone.
Which is why, for Goyal and Co, it’s all about starting with a realistic target in mind and not looking at deadlines which will hard to meet.
"Our first ‘delivery job’ currently is to design multi-rotor drones that can pick up a payload under 5 kg and set up drone delivery circuits for reducing the last mile delivery leg. We believe that robots powering the last mile delivery is an inevitable part of the future and hence is going to be a significant area of investment for us. " - Deepinder Goyal, Founder & CEO, Zomato
The regulations clearly states that drones or Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) in India will be categorised into five categories; nano, micro, small, medium and large.
The notification also confirms that except for the nano-sized drones (those that weigh below 250 grams and can't fly higher than 15 metres), all others are supposed to be registered.
For Zomato to work on drones to pick up payload under 5 kg will require heavy investment, which in reality will cost more than what a delivery person earns in a month.
TechEagle has set its expertise in this segment and Zomato will bank on its prowess to fulfill its goal. This startup was founded in 2015 by Vikram Singh Meena who was a student at IIT-Kanpur back then.
The company claims to have worked with unmanned aerial vehicles, with prime focus on custom-made drones capable of carrying up to 5 kg payload, matching up with Zomato’s strategy.
To its credit, TechEagle says that even before Amazon could pull it off, the startup managed to successfully deliver tea (chai) in Lucknow via its drone earlier this year.
Over 40,000 drones are said to be plying its trade in the country, and many more to be added in the coming years.
Zomato along with TechEagle could be in the right place to benefit from any possible leverages given for drone delivery in the Drone Policy version 2.0, expected to be released in 2019.
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