India-based online food ordering and restaurant discovery platform Zomato has successfully piloted its drone delivery technology using a hybrid drone.

As part of the trial, the fully-automated drone carried a payload of 5kg covering a distance of 5km in about ten minutes. The company noted that it was a non-commercial delivery.

The pilot programme follows the acquisition of a drone delivery start-up TechEagle Innovations by the company in December last year.

The lightweight drone features inbuilt sensors, an onboard computer, and a fusion of rotary wing and fixed wings.

It is currently testing each drone under remote pilot supervision to ensure 100% safety and will eventually make them autonomous based on data collected.

However, the company did not reveal the exact location where the drone delivered the package.

Zomato founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal said in a statement: “In recent years, we have witnessed the inevitable rapid urbanisation in many areas, leading to an increase in pollution and congestion on roads.

“Using drones for delivery would be a big game changer for metros as the idea is to scrape unnecessary traffic off the roads and direct it skyward. Plus, there is less chance of the package being damaged during transit and handling.”

Last month, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in India issued statement asking interested companies to submit an expression of interest (EOI) to conduct experimental beyond visual line of sight operations (BVLOS) of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS)/unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

The food delivery firm is currently creating a consortium as per DGCA’s guidelines to perform experimental BVLOS operations.

Goyal added: “Food delivery by drones is no longer just a pipe dream. It’s almost here. Regulatory hurdles are not trivial, and the government’s concerns need to be looked at from various (valid) points of view. Having said that, the tech is ready to fly and I am confident that drone delivery will be commonplace sooner rather than later.”