Restaurant discovery and food delivery app Zomato announced yesterday that it has acquired drone developer and fellow Indian startup, TechEagle Innovations. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Zomato currently works with 75,000 restaurants to deliver food in 100 cities in India. With the TechEagle acquisition, Zomato plans to build out a network for aerial food delivery in its home country. Food delivery is playing an increasingly important role for the company, and has jumped to 65 percent of Zomato’s revenue in December from 35 percent back in January of this year.
Now the company is looking to take its food delivery business sky high. Literally.
In a press announcement (courtesy of The Hindu Times), Zomato Founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal said, “We are currently at the early stage of aerial innovations and are taking baby steps towards building a tomorrow wherein users can expect a drone to deliver the food they ordered online. We believe that robots powering the last mile delivery is an inevitable part of the future and hence is going to be a significant area of investment for us.”
Goyal’s words come just a couple of months after it was uncovered that Uber wants to greatly accelerate its own drone food delivery ambitions for Uber Eats, potentially coming to market as soon as 2021. And this summer, Amazon re-emerged in the drone delivery discussion with a patent for in-flight recharging of drones.
But up until this point, Uber and Amazon have been all talk–with good reason. Here in the U.S., regulations around drone and commercial drone operations have yet to be defined. Issues around where drones can fly, safety measures, noise ordinances and even infrastructure still need to be worked out. I’m not familiar with regulation in India, but Quartz reports that a pizzeria launched delivery by drone four years ago, only to have it abruptly halted by local authorities over permissions and security threats.
Four years is a long time in the tech world, and Zomato seems to be undaunted. Even if it is just “baby steps” at this point, the TechEagle acquisition is a concrete move towards food delivery flying overhead. Success in India, however, won’t guarantee global success, as Zomato will still have to navigate the patchwork of drone laws that will emerge in each country.