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Zomato strikes Partnership with Vodafone-Idea for BVLOS Drone Test

Online food delivery major Zomato has struck partnership with telecom service provider Vodafone-Idea to conduct trails for BVLOS drones. Online news portal Medianama was the first to report about this development.

Zomato’s drones will be powered by Vodafone-Idea sim and the latter will also offer LTE (long term evolution) support to the drones.

Last month, Zomato was among the 12 companies that received official approval from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to start testing BVLOS drones. Other online delivery majors Swiggy and Dunzo have also received the approvals for conducting the tests.

However, the exact timeline as to when Zomato will conduct this test is still not known. The Gurgaon based company and other players that have received approval have been mandated to conduct test in the specified airspace as approved by DGCA.

Zomato was also the first company in India to test the drone delivery, having conducted the test in June last year.

Meanwhile, Zomato’s decision to strike partnership with Vodafone-Idea for conducting BVLOS drones has come in the aftermath of cancellation of acquisition deal with TechEagle. TechEagle, which was acquired by the online food major in December last year, parted ways with Zomato last week. The Lucknow based startup reportedly cited non-alignment of long term vision as the main reason for cancellation of the deal.

Techpluto reached out to TechEagle’s CEO and founder Vikram Singh to seek his comment about cancellation of the acquisition deal. Mr. Singh declined to comment about reasons that led to the collapse of the Zomato deal. However, he did comment about the future plans of the company including its decision to enter the healthcare sector.

“TechEagle has already started working with a few partners in Healthcare and Essential Logistics. Healthcare is on topmost priority because of COVID19 crisis, we are working on enabling Drone based Delivery Network for emergency healthcare items (i.e.- Blood, Vaccine, etc.) to save lives,” Singh said to Techpluto.

When asked about the regulatory issues posing India’s drone industry, Vikram Singh said “India is almost 4 years behind other countries in terms of regulations. Recently DGCA has released  “UAS Rules 2020” for public comments which are more promising than CAR 1.0. Implementation of New Rules would take its own time and course.”

“Regulatory framework would still be a challenge for Drone Startups. Regulations are moving in the right direction but need to pick up the pace,” he further added.

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