Telecom operator Vodafone Idea is reportedly partnering with food delivery service Zomato and TechEagle Innovations for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone experiments that will be organised by India’s civil aviation regulator, DGCA. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had shortlisted 13 consortia which received the nod for a preliminary experiment. Both Zomato and Tech Eagle come under the umbrella of the ClearSky consortium, which is among 13 shortlisted consortia.
According to reports, Dunzo, Throttle Aerospace Systems, Swiggy, ShopX, Spicexpress, Zipline, Redwing, and ClearSky Flight are also in the list of companies that were granted approvals by the DGCA to conduct trials of drone-based deliveries. According to a report by MediaNama, both these companies are part of the ClearSky consortium, which is one of the 13 consortia that have been allowed by the DGCA to participate in the trials.
Vodafone Idea to provide LTE support
Under the partnership, Vodafone Idea will provide LTE support to TechEagle’s drones for the trials. These drones will use the telecom operator's 4G network and unlicensed bands to stay connected to the internet during the trials.
“Drones that’ll communicate over Vodafone Idea’s LTE network will need to have a Vodafone Idea SIM card inserted into them. This SIM will be used to talk to other drones in the vicinity while providing much needed internet access to the drone’s UTM. It is here where Vodafone Idea is expected to make money, essentially by billing the drone company using its SIM for data costs,” people familiar were quoted as saying by MediaNama.
The connected drone will gather data such as weather updates and airspace status, among other things during the trials.
Interestingly, Zomato had tested its first drone delivery in June last year. The company, however, ended its relationship with Gurugram-based drone startup TechEagle Innovations, which it had ‘acqui-hired’ in December 2018.