In what will come as a big boost for the online delivery industry, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has given official approval to companies like Zomato, Swiggy and Dunzo to start testing BVLOS drones for deliveries. BVLOS drones are essentially those drones that fly at distances beyond normal visibility and also cover far greater distances.
Along with online delivery companies, DGCA has also given approval to 9 other companies including Asteria Aerospace (backed by Reliance Industries), Spicejet, ShopX, Zipline and ClearSky.
According to reports, DGCA will be giving each of these companies specific airspace where they can conduct these tests. But the exact timeline of these tests is still not known.
This approval has come at a time when drone deliveries has assumed greater importance in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, since it truly symbolizes contactless delivery and can help in steaming the growth of virus. On the international landscape, drone deliveries have taken off in a big way; especially in the U.S where several online delivery companies have gone far ahead in testing drone machines for deliveries.
In the case of India, Zomato is probably the only Indian company to have tested drone delivery. The Gurugram based company had tested drone delivery in June last year. The drone was clipped with rotary as well fixed wings and covered a distance of 5 km while carrying 5 Kg payload.
Online delivery companies are visibly excited about integrating drone technology into delivery services, since it makes logistic operations not only efficient but also less expensive. But drone technology has also been repeatedly red-flagged for security concerns, with law enforcement agencies often labeling this technology as risk-prone to security issues.