Online food platform Zomato said on Wednesday that it has successfully tested its maiden drone delivery technology. A hybrid drone was used for the experiment which was able to cover a distance of 5 km in about ten minutes carrying a payload of 5 kg. It covered the distance at a peak speed of 80 km per hour.
In December 2018, Zomato had acquired drone delivery startup TechEagle Innovations in an attempt to explore the drone-based food delivery space in India.
Currently, regulations prohibit payload carriage on drones as well as drone operations outside visual line of sight. However, the government had said that the norms will be evolved with time as and when companies are able to exhibit newer technologies.
Keeping in line with this, Zomato has said that it is forming a consortium to carry out experimental operations of drones beyond line of sight as per the DGCA's programme for conducting such trial, according to a report in The Indian Express.
"Inbuilt sensors and an onboard computer allow the drone to sense and avoid static and dynamic objects, overall making it more efficient for autonomous flights," said the company, as mentioned in the daily. The Gurugram-based company said that each drone is being tested with remote pilot supervision. It further added that it might do away with pilot supervision as and when the company collects more data.
Zomato said that the average time taken by the biker fleet to deliver is 30.5 minutes. It added that the only way to reduce that time to 15 minutes is if the aerial route is taken. Founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal said that they have been working towards building sustainable and safe delivery tech and with their first successful test, food delivery by drones is no longer a pipe dream.
Goyal also added that the tech is ready and that drone delivery will be commonplace sooner or later. He said that they will also have to keep regulatory hurdles and the government's concerns in mind for this endeavour.
Not only Zomato, Amazon had also said earlier this month that self-piloted drones will be delivering packages to shoppers in the coming months. Amazon said its new drones use computer vision and machine learning to detect and avoid people or clotheslines in backyards when landing. "From paragliders to power lines to a corgi in the backyard, the brain of the drone has safety covered," said Jeff Wilke, who oversees Amazon's retail business.