Coronavirus impact: Food delivery via drones could be the new way of life

ST Staff
Thursday, 4 June 2020

Several food startups will get permission to conduct trials in the first week of July

With the ongoing pandemic, food delivery in India via drones could potentially turn into reality. Food startups, including Zomato, Swiggy, and Dunzo, got permission from the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to test run beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) drones for deliveries.

The aviation sector has approved SpiceJet, Reliance-backed drone startup Asteria Aerospace, Zomato, Swiggy, Dunzo, and 13 other similar companies to test drone flights.

The idea of using flying drones to deliver food was proposed last year and India announced its plan of action for the same. Manufacturing of BVLOS would be India's first step towards developing local service-based drones. The test runs are likely to begin in July first week.

All the associations who approached DGCA for permission, have to complete 100 hours of the flying time by September 30. Airport Authority of India will designate specific airspace to complete the 100 hours flight time, later on, DGCA will analyse each report.

SpiceJet received permission in May to begin drone trials. After the trials, airlines' cargo branch SpiceXpress will start delivering medical parcels and essential supplies.

Ajay Singh, SpiceJet Managing Director and Chairman, said, "Testing of drone technology for last-mile connectivity and cost-effective cargo deliveries are a big leap in the air transportation of essential and non-essential supplies in India."

The founder of Zomato, Deepinder Goyal, believes, "Food delivery by drones is no longer just a pipe dream. It's almost here."

Last year, Zomato had successfully completed a delivery trial using a drone in India. Carrying around 5kgs of weight, the drone covered 5km distance in 10 minutes. CEO of Zomato says the idea is to deliver food in less than 15 mins, using local service-based drones.

"Fifteen minutes is only possible if we take the aerial route - roads are not efficient for very fast delivery," Mr Goyal added.

With a highly contagious virus living amongst us, food deliveries via drone and reducing the delivery time could be a big game-changer for India.

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