Update on Dec 11: A Zomato spokesperson told MediaNama that a pilot will be conducted in Delhi NCR and eventually scale to other cities where it carries out food delivery. The company did not specify a timeline for this. “We are currently working on devising hub-to-hub delivery networks and designing multi-rotor drones that can pick up a payload of under 5 kg. We will run thorough testing and procure all necessary licenses, as directed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, before we launch the service for our users. We will run a pilot in Delhi/NCR in the future and eventually scale it to other cities our food delivery business has a presence in.” said the statement.

Earlier on Dec 5: Zomato has acquired a Lucknow-based startup which works only on drones, to work on delivery through hybrid multi-rotor drones. The company did not disclose the size of the deal.

Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal said that the company is taking steps toward a future when a customer can expect drones to deliver food ordered online. Goyal said Zomato would work on setting up a drone delivery circuits, with TechEagle’s design, to reduce last mile delivery leg. “We believe that robots powering the last mile delivery is an inevitable part of the future” Goyal said, “and hence is going to be a significant area of investment for us.

MediaNama has reached out to Zomato for further details and will update this when we hear from them.

TechEagle was founded in 2015 by Vikram Singh Meena, an alumnus of IIT-Kanpur. He has been working on drones ever since he founded the startup, with a focus on custom drones capable of carrying a load of upto 5 kg.

TechEagle has already worked on delivering readymade tea via drones, for which it took orders via a mobile app. In April, ANI reported that the drone can carry a load of upto 2 kg and travel for upto 10 km. In an interview with Bizztorr after the drone was tested for tea delivery, Singh said TechEagle was recognized by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and has received (an undisclosed amount of) funding from the UP government.

Zomato claims that the company has already delivered 15,000 orders via HyperPure, moved 1500 metric tonnes of fresh produce and booked orders for over $6 million per month. Zomato said its corporate catering service Food@Work has expanding to new locations, without specifying which ones.

India’s drone policy kicks in

Note that the acquisition has been announced just after the Union Government launched Digital Sky, a portal to register and fly personal and commercial drones in the country. Additionally, India’s drone policy came into effect starting this month.

Read the drone flying rules here and the drone policy here.

Moves at Zomato this week

  • Zomato’s CFO Sameer Maheshwary left the company today citing personal and professional interests. COO Gaurav Gupta is taking over as interim finance head.
  • The company also roped in former Indian Express Digital CEO Durga Raghunath as senior VP for growth earlier this week.