Zomato, Uber Eats and the Race for Drone Deliveries

Drone deliveries in logistics sector including the bowl of food delivery, is a stride towards automation.Going neck to neck with giants like Amazon, Uber Eats and Zomato are leaving no stones unturned to revolutionise the hyperlocal food delivery arena. While India’s leading food delivery platform Zomato has already tested a drone-based food package delivery under certain restricted conditions, Uber Eats is all set to gear up its drone testing in dense urban environments.

On June 12, Zomato’s drone flew a distance of 5 kilometres in “about 10 minutes” at a peak speed of 80 kilometres per hour. In December 2018, Zomato had acquired TechEagle, a Lucknow-based drone startup, which it had said would help create “a hub-to-hub delivery network powered by hybrid multi-rotor drones.”

The hybrid drone used by Zomato for the test, reportedly carried a payload of five kg and is a fusion of rotary wing and fixed wings, and is fully automated. Each such drone is currently being tested with remote-controlled pilot supervision to ensure safety.

Vikram Singh Meena of TechEagle Innovation along with his team who has developed drones for Zomatao

Uber will be conducting its first customer test drone deliveries to showcase what the future of food delivery will look like. By combining Uber Elevate’s innovative technology with Uber Eats’ network and logistical expertise, drone food delivery will expand customers’ culinary options and decrease delivery times.

This service is powered by Elevate Cloud Systems, a new, dynamic and proprietary airspace management system that tracks and guides all drone flights to take off, fly and land independently.

Zomato is primarily aiming at increasing its delivery speed and reducing the time to half with the incorporation of drone deliveries. Deepinder Goyal, Founder and CEO, Zomato, in a statement said, “The only possible way to reduce the average 30 minutes to 15 minutes is to take the aerial route. Roads are not efficient for very fast deliveries. 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.”

Uber, however, is not looking forward to using drones for the full delivery but they’ll act as mediators in the entire delivery system in which the food will be packed and loaded onto the drone, which will then take off and land at some pre-set location, from where the Uber Eats driver will pick up the food and make it to the final destination.

In the long run, Uber also aims at landing the drone on the top of Uber Vehicles parked near the delivery location of the customer, from where on an Uber driver can deliver the food through the conventional way.

Luke Fischer, Uber Elevate Head of Flight Operations, in a statement on drone deliveries, said, “We don’t need to get the drone direct to our customers or consumers. We just have to get it close enough.” The ideology Uber holds is a little different than Zomato, yet the destined goal of speeding up the delivery process to customers is more or less the same for both platforms.

For Zomato and Uber Eats, both being rivals, the impact that drone delivery system will cast on their rivalry and customer base is yet to be seen. As for the surrounding, with drone deliveries becoming a reality, the future with reduced traffic and pollution can be foreseen.

These drones not only hold the potential to making speedy deliveries to customers but are also great to reduce the everyday traffic to an immense extent and can also be beneficial for the logistics organisations trading and using roads as the major way for their transportation of goods. Both the major platforms are making incredible progress on the subject and we can actually expect to see numerous drones with food packages flying over our heads in the mere future.

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