Swiggy drone delivery is here, and this time it’s for real. If the news sounds like deja vu to you, you’re not totally off. Swiggy, one of India’s largest online food delivery platforms, announced this time last year that it would begin food deliveries via drone.
That was in June 2020, when the team behind it anticipated appetite for unmanned drones delivering food would be strong, given increased desire to reduce contact between people. The team said in June 2020 that it would begin deliveries as soon as mid-July 2020, subject to easing of coronavirus-related restrictions.
But no one predicted that the state of coronavirus in India would be dire. Restrictions didn’t exactly ease in July 2020, and case counts only got worse. India’s coronavirus case crisis is among the worst in the world, with at least 1 in 46 India residents having been infected with COVID-19.
And while May 2021 was the worst month for cases and deaths in India, cases are decreasing. And on June 16, 2021, Swiggy, India’s largest on-demand delivery service, finally (for real this time) launched India’s first-ever drone delivery trials. The deliveries are being done in coordination with the Indian government and ANRA Technologies, an airspace management and services provider for drones.
The drones will fly beyond visual line of sight, enabled by ANRA’s proprietary drone hardware and its SmartSkies CTR airspace management and SmartSkies DELIVERY platforms.
What Swiggy had planned back in 2020
When the deliveries were first announced, they would be done on a relatively small area in two different cities, Ropar and Etah as part of a pilot program, with drones set to make an estimated 25 – 50 flights per day at launch. They’d scale up from there.
In the city of Ropar, the drones would deliver snacks and drinks on-demand to residents who download the Swiggy App in and are in an 8 sq. km area around the IIT Campus. The customer would receive real-time flight tracking, so they’d know exactly when their delivery will arrive and where in the air it is.
What to expect from Swiggy drone delivery in 2021
Now it’s been a year. And still, the drone delivery is still happening at a relatively small scale. It’s not clear when or if Swiggy drone delivery will take off nationwide. A spokesperson for ANRA said that beyond COVID, high levels of bureaucracy amongst Indian government agencies didn’t make things easier. Between layers of bureaucratic reviews and approvals, a delay with one of the ministries, and COVID, it took well over a year for the drone deliveries to take off.
But the team is optimistic that things could change.
“India is looking at the operations to fast-track its policies and prepare the local industry for a significant push into the drone services segment globally,” according to a prepared statement from ANRA.