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Drones may soon deliver food, medicines and groceries in India

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Drones may soon deliver food, medicines and groceries in India

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Skye Air Mobility, a company specialising in drone deliveries, has partnered with Dunzo to carry out trials and soon roll out delivery services in Karnataka. Big guns like Reliance Industries are also eyeing a share of the market.

Drones may soon deliver food, medicines and groceries in India

Super-fast delivery of food, groceries, medicines and other items via drones may start sooner than you think. After the Centre’s updated Drone Rules 2021, airborne deliveries may be rolled out in the coming months.

Skye Air Mobility, a company specialising in drone deliveries, has partnered with Dunzo to carry out trials and eventually roll out drone delivery service in Karnataka.

While it is challenging to operate drones for delivery in urban areas, the updated Drone Rules 2021 have substantially eased drone operations across the country, especially in cities, said Swapnik Jakkampudi, Co-Founder, Chief Technology Officer at Skye Air Mobility, told Mint.

According to Jakkampudi, commercial deliveries could start soon, but they will be executed in stages.

The new Drone Rules 2021 have simplified forms and fee structure for the registration of drones and made the procedure smoother for their operation.

The updated rules abolished requirement of several stringent approvals such as a certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance and operator permit, unique authorisation number, unique prototype identification number and certificate of manufacturing and airworthiness.

The government has also released India’s airspace map for drone operations. The airspace is divided into different zones: Green zone, where drones can be flown; red zone, where drones can’t be flown; and yellow zone, where drones can be flown but with permission.

With this, many tech companies and startups have set off to create drones as a new delivery alternative.

Earlier, Zomato successfully completed test deliveries of food in India. They tested a drone carrying a payload of 5 kg that covered 5 km in 10 minutes. The food delivery chain aims to deliver food to customers in less than 15 minutes through drones in future. 

During the COVID-19 crisis, the Telengana government launched the ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project, in which a drone carried a box weighing 12 kg of medicines and 20 vials of vaccines over 6 km in five minutes, reported The Deccan Chronicle.   

Earlier in the year, Sky Air Mobility signed an MoU with the Himachal Pradesh government to deliver vaccines and medicines to the rural parts of the state.

Swiggy has recently invited drone service companies via a request for proposal (RFP) or bids to expedite drone delivery of grocery and essential items in several cities for a period of six months. The period for bidding started from February 22, 2022 and submissions close on March 2. The food delivery service had earlier conducted successful tests with ANRA technologies. 

Zypp Electric, that currently provides last mile delivery services through electric bikes, also announced that it will be rolling out drone delivery services in  Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi-NCR.

Even big companies like Reliance Industries are eyeing a share of the market.

With strong motivation from companies and government support, drone deliveries in India are set to take off. “Drones are a frontier technology that can be used to access otherwise inaccessible areas. India is all set to become the drone hub of the world by 2030," Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said in a Deccan Chronicle report.

However, using drones in urban areas will require meticulous planning of routes and paths, performing pre-flight checks, scouting, and other systems will need to be put in place.

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