Soon you might be able to order food from your favourite restaurant 30 km away and get it delivered to your home via a drone in less than 30 minutes. Until now drones were mostly being used for videography and surveillance. But a recent change in Govt. regulations will now allow long range drone based deliveries such as food delivery, online purchase delivery, medicine and blood delivery in cases of emergency on a large scale across India. The ministries of civil aviation and home affairs have moved at a remarkable speed and have given permissions to a select few companies to run beyond visual line of sight operations of drones. Many well know players in the UAV industry could not make it to the list because of tough technology and safety requirements from the Govt.

ShopX has come up with an innovative Drone "AirTrain" concept, for just in time delivery across Indian B2B value chains. This allows small retailers to pick "Drone Delivery" as a delivery option and get a wide range of products delivered to them within 30-60 minutes. Currently, these stores are limited by what they can carry in their limited shelf space, and conventional supply chains typically fulfil their needs once a week. With AirTrain, they can get real time fulfilment of products, thereby increasing their merchandizing ability and sales. ShopX is already running one of the largest eB2B retail networks in the country, with over 2 Lakh retailers on its technology platform.

Omnipresent comes with some solid background in this area. They had earlier done trial drone deliveries for medicine for AIIMS hospital in Delhi. ShopX and Omnipresent had jointly done trial deliveries in ShopX warehouses. Omnipresent has also developed inhouse AI Engine called the Nerve Center which allows smart scheduling planning detection and classification on board the drone. They are already empanelled by over 7 state Govt. agencies for drone based services Agriculture, Telecom, Oil refineries, Factories and Survey applications. They have done over 1 lac acres of agriculture and city mapping. "Our drones have been deployed in almost all states in India now, they have been especially useful in significantly improving output of industrial factories by giving them actionable insights on structural damage, catching theft, accurate stock calculation, virtual 3d tours and accurate mapping. Recently, we also got recognised as one of the top 5 UAV companies selected by Union Ministry of Agriculture to be given permission do precision spraying to fight recent locust attack via drones," said Aakash Sinha, Founder Omnipresent Tech. Aakash is a MS Robotics graduate from Carnegie Mellon, under guidance of Dr. Raj Reddy who was earlier president of American Society of AI, he was also Ex IT/AI advisor to US President. Aakash was also awarded TR35 (35 under 35) by MIT. Recipient of this illustrious award include top innovators like Zuckerberg and Gates. Omnipresent had also developed AI software for navigation of Prgyaan Rover on Chandrayaan mission. They have also been doing their bit for environment with their Drone Boat (Ro-boat) for the Clean Ganga Mission.

"With our partnership with Omnipresent, we want to put India at the forefront of utilizing drone tech for real applications today and intend to create a major disruption in supply chain especially for retail segment," said Amit Sharma, CEO and Co-founder of ShopX.

The Govt moving at record speed and has eased out most of the drone regulations for commercial operations by trusted service providers. It is backing BVLOS operations and creating automated Digital Sky platform which will allow authorized drone operators to fly in nearly 80% of India (Green and Yellow Zones) with automated real time online permissions process. This would result in exponential growth in the drone market as host of applications related to Ecom, food delivery and cross country mapping of highways, powerlines, railroad etc. It is expected that the drone services market with grow to about $2 billion in next 3-4 years in India.

Sharing an instance from 7 years ago, Aakash recalls how they had tested the feasibility of drone deliveries for Jabong at the behest of then MD and Co-founder, Praveen Sinha. "He told us that once we could break through the technological and regulatory bottlenecks of the time, drone deliveries would disrupt the retail logistics space in the country. 7 years later, his prediction stands true."

On being asked on the potential of drone deliveries, Praveen Sinha said that technology always holds the key in accelerating any sector and it is the same for retail. "A decade ago E-commerce was at its nascent stages in India and here we are at a stage where drone deliveries are going to be a reality. Once drone deliveries and 3D Printing become economically viable, we will see a disruption in the supply chain that no one envisioned," he concluded.

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