Gurugram-based food delivery and restaurant discovery platform Zomato has successfully tested its first attempt at food delivery using a drone. The test was conducted using a hybrid drone which had a fusion of rotary wing and fixed wings on a single drone.
The test drone, Zomato claims, was successfully and seamlessly able to cover a distance of 5 kms in about 10 minutes, with a peak speed of 80 kmph, carrying a payload of 5 kgs. Currently, it takes Zomato’s biker fleet to deliver food is 30.5 minutes.
Deepinder Goyal, founder and CEO, Zomato, said, “The only possible way to reduce the average 30.5 minutes to 15 minutes is to take the aerial route – roads are not efficient for very fast delivery. We have been working towards building sustainable and safe delivery technology and with our first successful test, food delivery by drones is no longer just a pipe dream. 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.”
Notably, Zomato had acquired TechEagle Innovations, a Lucknow-based startup that works exclusively on drones last year in December.
How drone tech will work?
Zomato claims that the drone built for delivery is lightweight, with inbuilt sensors and an on-board computer to sense and avoid static and dynamic objects, overall making it more efficient for autonomous flights. It is also capable of taking off vertically like a helicopter, transiting to an airplane mode to cover the distance and then switching back to helicopter mode for vertical landing without requiring any airstrip.
The drones will pick up the food package from a restaurant hub (a dispatch station around a cluster of restaurants), and drop the package at a customer hub (a landing station close to dense communities), and comes back to the dispatch site using a mix of different and appropriate flight modes.
Although being fully automated, each drone is currently being tested with (remote) pilot supervision to ensure 100% safety. Over time, as the company collects more data, it might do away with pilot supervision.