One of India’s biggest online food delivery company Zomato has taken their first step to realize the vision of establishing a drone-based delivery network in India, by acquiring TechEagle, a Lucknow-based startup working exclusively on the commercial use of drones.
This could possibly signify the unraveling of the foundation of drone-delivery service in India, creating a hub to hub distribution network which will be powered by hybrid multi-rotor drones.
Not only will they replace many current executives and overcome limitations of two-wheelers to facilitate speedy delivery in congested cities like Bangalore, Pune, and Delhi, this would also significantly reduce the operational cost of the company in maintaining such an intricate system.
Founded in 2015 by Vikram Singh Meena, TechEagle Innovations specializes in developing custom-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are capable of carrying up to 5-kilogram payload.
This development comes at a time when Zomato is leaving no stone unturned to aid last-mile coverage, based on their prime acquisitions of startups like Runner and TongueStun, which aimed to bolster Zomato’s on-ground services and strengthen its logistics network significantly.
The drone ecosystem is at a very nascent stage in the Indian market due to legal and social issues, but offers an unsaturated pool of opportunities to players like Aero360, Drona Aviation, and Skylark Drones, to collaborate with leading consumer internet companies, particularly in segments such as e-commerce, food delivery, and hyper-local delivery.
Commenting on the recent acquisition, Deepinder Goyal, Founder & CEO, Zomato, said, “We are currently at the early stage of aerial innovations and are taking baby steps towards building a tomorrow wherein users can expect a drone to deliver the food they ordered online. We are thrilled to have Vikram and his team join us towards accomplishing this mission.”
The food delivery segment of Zomato currently accounts for about 65% of the total revenue of the company, by catering to over 22 million orders on a monthly basis. The remnant proceeds are derived from Zomato’s diversified range of services such as takeaway facilities, online table reservations, B2B food ingredient supply chain and the Zomato Piggybank.
The revolutionary concept of drone delivery services has already taken flight in countries like China where Ele.me, one of the leading online food delivery platforms, has been given the green light by authorities to operate drones over newly-approved routes in Shanghai.
Based on a report by The Wall Street Journal, Uber
Technologies Inc. has also fixed an ambitious timeline to take to the skies with a fleet of food-delivery drones, probably by 2021.
The future of drones is no longer mundane in terms of a narrow range of activities like surveillance, filmmaking or photography.
Through limitless applications and opening up of new possibilities, drones are possibly the next big thing in online retail business, and with time, may alter the paradigm of transportation and distribution system, as we know it.