Food-delivery aggregator and restaurant-discovery platform Zomato Media Pvt. Ltd said on Wednesday that it has successfully tested a drone in an effort to make air delivery possible. The drone carried goods weighing five kilogrammes and covered five kilometres (kms) in about 10 minutes, peaking at 80 km/hour.
“While regulatory hurdles are not trivial, and the government’s concerns need to be looked at from various points of view, the tech is ready to fly and I am confident that drone delivery will be commonplace sooner rather than later,” said Deepinder Goyal, founder and chief executive, Zomato. “With our first successful test, food delivery by drones is no longer just a pipe dream,” added Goyal.
The drone has sensors and an onboard computer to avoid still and moving objects, thereby making it capable of autonomous flight, the company said in a statement.
In a statement, Zomato said that the first few deliveries made via drones will be executed by picking up the package from a restaurant hub (a dispatch station around a cluster of restaurants) and dropping it at a customer hub (a landing station close to dense communities). The drones will be capable of taking off and landing vertically by switching to helicopter mode, thereby eliminating the need for an airstrip.
Although capable of being fully automated, each drone is currently being tested with remote pilot supervision. As more data is collected over time, the need for pilot supervision might be done away with, Zomato said in the statement.
Zomato said in the statement that it is forming a consortium in accordance with the aviation regulator’s guidelines in order to fly drones beyond the operators’ line of sight.
In December, Zomato had acquired Lucknow-based TechEagle Innovations Pvt. Ltd to help the firm bolster its delivery capabilities by harnessing drone technology.
In August last year, regulations allowed drones to be used commercially in various sectors.
A government directive issued earlier this year ordered drone manufacturers to install hardware such as chips to ensure safety from aerial accidents and security-related incidents.