Garuda Aerospace, an Indian drone manufacturer based in Chennai, is in the midst of a flurry of preparations. Drones from the company will be employed in a first-of-its-kind, real-world trial in India, where drones will be used to speed up the grocery delivery process (by app-based delivery services).
Garuda’s drones will be among those flown to restock inventory between seller-run storefronts and a drop point, according to food tech and delivery business Swiggy. The delivery executive would then transport the merchandise to the consumers’ location. These trails are scheduled to begin in Bengaluru and subsequently go to Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).
WION met with Garuda Aerospace’s Founder and CEO, Agnishwar Jayaprakash, to learn more about the work being done to make this trial possible.
According to him, grocery delivery trials will take place in Bengaluru and Hoskote, a town around 30 kilometres from the former, in the coming weeks. He went on to say that the drone deliveries would be for genuine customers, not dummy orders.
To limit the amount of licences and approvals required for such a trial, we’re starting in Hoskote, a smaller town with a lower population density. “While 80% of the experiments will feature drones transporting groceries from a seller location to a pickup point (where the executive will pick it up), the remaining 20% will involve drones delivering groceries last-mile,” he stated.
The ‘Garuda delivery drone,’ as it is known, would be pre-programmed with the drop location’s coordinates and would have to deliver the payload there. The model being utilised for such deliveries, according to Garuda Aerospace, can fly at a high speed of 75kmph, at a maximum height of 950 metres, carrying up to 15kg of payload, and will cover deliveries within a 5-15km radius. When asked why pilots are needed, Agnishwar explained that the drones are trained to execute the job autonomously while avoiding impediments like electricity lines, birds, and trees. The entire operation, though, would be overseen by their company’s drone pilots, who would interfere if necessary.
The company is also in contact with Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) to obtain the required licences for drones to deliver food to clients who live on their property.
“We intend to employ one type of drone in which the cargo is dropped to the ground while the drone stays in the air. The drone will land and place the payload on the ground in another variation. Options such as picking up groceries from the rooftop or other open areas in residential complexes are being explored. We’re also considering putting facial recognition into the drone in the case of direct delivery to customers, to ensure that only the intended consumer receives the order “Agnishwar elaborated.
Garuda said it aims to build roughly 50,000 drones in India next year after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the company’s drone manufacturing facility in February.
“We’ve also received signed confirmation orders for over 8,000 drones from Malaysia, Panama, and the United Arab Emirates,” the company said.
Ocgrow Ventures, based in Canada, also contributed an undisclosed sum to the company’s Pre-Series A fundraising round. This round of funding is planned to serve as a warm-up for Garuda’s $30 million Series A financing, which is set to take place in June 2022.