Will Zomato Deliver on Its Drone Delivery?

Zomato, one of India’s largest food delivery companies, took mechanised operations to the next level when it tested its first drone delivery. With this innovation around the corner, all those millennials working long hours in crowded metro cities can breathe a sigh of relief- their food will reach much faster now. Instead of pressurising delivery agents to navigate dense traffic in less time and this indirectly causing them to risk their lives, delivering food by air seems to be the new solution.

Zomato has exponentially expanded its reach in India in the recent years and given the increased traffic was motivated to try out newer and faster delivery methods using hybrid drones. The test model carried a payload of 5 kgs (11 pounds) and covered 5 kms (3.1 miles) in 10 mins. With a peak speed of 80 kmph, the possibilities look quite good. According to Deepinder Goyal, CEO of Zomato, the goal is to deliver food to customers in less than 15 minutes someday, which would not be possible by road. While the delivery fleet on bike clocks an average of 30.5 minutes, every added minute spent in the traffic means incremental customer dissatisfaction, which Zomato wants to minimise.

While critics are writing this off as a gimmick to make news, Zomato has its feet firmly in the ground about making drone delivery a reality. It is backed by Ant Financial and Delivery Hero and thus seems all set on the funding. This move was anything but a gimmick, given it was in the making since last year when Zomato acquired local drone startup TechEagle. Even the design is in advanced stages and almost finalised, with a focus on smaller details like an array of sensors to detect and avoid static and dynamic objects in its journey.

Even though it is all set and has a successful launch under its belt, Zomato is in no hurry to launch this service right away. They take their safety standards quite seriously. Right now, each drone is being tested with (remote) pilot supervision to ensure 100% safety. Goyal is hopeful that as they collect data from more test runs, they may not need remote pilot supervision.

However, Zomato is not the only delivery app considering drones. This news comes in the wake of UberEats doing similar tests in San Diego and rumours of Amazon beginning a drone-operated delivery process. What remains to be seen is how far ahead Zomato stays of the competition, and how this impacts the sector.

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