We heard about various drone startups talking about bringing a revolution in delivering medicines, vaccines, and groceries when the struggle against Covid-19 was in full swing last year. Drone delivery startups have made headlines in India, with claims that they are the next big thing. Swiggy to lead India’s drone delivery revolution and how easy food delivery apps can ‘fly’ steaming hot pasta to your balcony practically flooded our social media feeds. However, whenever there is a situation where drone delivery may make a real impact, these firms are nowhere to be found.
Consider the tragic ropeway accident in Jharkhand’s Deoghar district, which has already claimed the lives of two individuals and left 48 more trapped in the ropeway’s 12 cabins. The Indian Air Force (IAF), along with the NDRF, commandos, and experts, is in charge of the rescue effort. Consider the situation of those stuck in ropeway cabins in temperatures as high as 40 degrees.
Isn’t it possible to deliver water bottles, ORS packets, and snacks to individuals in need using drones? Instead of releasing press releases and attempting to look cool on social media by delivering pizzas, why can’t drone delivery firms consider engaging in rescue operations as a CSR effort?
Now, one may say that the rescue operations are the responsibility of the government agencies and the armed forces will do a better job. You may feel that private companies can’t be told what to do. And frankly, no one is trying to show directions to the brilliant startup minds. It’s perfectly fine to mind your ‘own business’ and your PR. But there’s no denying that drone delivery startups are missing the opportunity to be the real deal in India instead of gathering ‘likes’ on social media.
If you think that drones won’t be able to carry enough weight or that startups won’t be capable, you’re misinformed. Skye Air Mobility, a Delivery by Drones Logistic Company based in New Delhi, demonstrated its capabilities in February 2022 at the Lakadong Turmeric Fly-off Event by carrying a combined weight of 100 kg of dry turmeric via multiple autonomous BVLoS flights in Mulieh Village, Meghalaya. According to the company, approximately 900 autonomous BVLoS flights transporting various healthcare and grocery items were performed in 2021.
Drones have been used for rescue operations in the past, and it’s not uncommon in India. But, when the demand arises, when will drones and drone delivery firms be at the forefront?