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Zomato successfully tests aerial food delivery by drone, but is it legal?

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Bengaluru, June 16: With an eye on starting delivery by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at some point in the future, Restaurant search and food ordering firm Zomato has successfully tested food delivery via drone technology.

Food delivery forms a big part of the company's business contributing over 65% of its total revenue.

Zomato successfully tests aerial food delivery by drone, but is it legal?

In December last year, Zomato had announced the acquisition of Lucknow-based startup TechEagle Innovations, for an undisclosed amount, to carve a path toward drone-based food delivery in India.

This Zomato delivery guy feeds hungry kids with cancelled orders

In a statement on Wednesday, Zomato said the test was conducted using a hybrid drone that was able to cover a distance of 5 kms in about 10 minutes with a peak speed of 80 kmph while carrying a payload of 5 kgs.

The test was conducted at a designated zone as per DGCA norms, it added.

"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," Zomato founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal said.

He added that while there are regulatory hurdles, the tech is ready for use.

The drone has inbuilt sensors and an onboard computer to sense and avoid static and dynamic objects. 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.

But is it even legal?

The country's legal norms do not allow drones to deliver. So how does the food delivery app plans to use its drone technology? Let's find out.

Owing to security concerns and the absence of a policy framework, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had disallowed any civil use of drones until a policy was put in place.

So, drones as of now cannot be used for delivery.

Zomato is quickly expanding its footprint in India, even into smaller cities. The company recently said it will soon have operations in over 100 small cities in India. It has also been boosting its capacity to improve last-mile delivery.

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