Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery service may make its debut in India as early as Diwali, according to some sources quoted by The Economic Times.
Amazon will most likely begin its delivery service using drones or unmanned aerial vehicles with trials in Mumbai and Bangalore as Amazon has its warehouses in these cities. According to the Economic Times, the service could start as early as Diwali, which begins towards the end of October this year. Amazon hasn’t given any official comment on the same.
Amazon’s Prime Air drone is basically an octo-copter, as it’s fitted with eight rotors. According to Amazon, it is developing drones weighing less than 25kg which can travel at over 80 kmph. The drones can carry a package of up to 2.26kg, which practically covers over 85 per cent of products sold on Amazon. According to the sources, the packages having products such as mobile phones and books will be delivered between 90mins to 3 hours to select customers.
At the moment, Amazon cannot test the drones in the US, as it’s not allowed there. Amazon has already put forth requests with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to be allowed permission to test its delivery drones near Seattle. Currently, only hobbyists and model aircraft enthusiasts are allowed to fly drones outdoors in the US. Flying drones for commercial use is prohibited.
According to the norms in India, drones aren’t allowed to be flown at an altitude higher than 400ft and are banned from flying over security establishments. At the moment, all UAV flying is done with permission from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Ministry of Defence (MoD). Also, for flying remote controlled aircrafts, you can only use these frequencies: 27004 KHz, 27116 KHz, 27148 KHz, 27156 KHz and 27228 KHz.
But Mumbai has witnessed a drone delivery in the recent past. Back in May, a pizza outlet had allegedly delivered a pizza using a quadrocopter. But that did not go down well with the Mumbai Police authorities as they sought explanation from the pizza outlet. “We are very sensitive towards anything that flies in the sky with the help of remote control. We will certainly ask the outlet’s administration as to why it did not inform us before carrying out this experiment. We also seek full details pertaining to the drone test,” Madhukar Pandey, Additional Police Commissioner (Central Region) in whose jurisdiction the drone was flown, had told PTI. The police later concluded that the delivery was nothing but a publicity stunt and the outlet never really delivered a pizza.
At the moment, it looks like an uphill task for Amazon, as far as getting the relevant permissions to start drone delivery in Mumbai and Bangalore by as early as October end. If Amazon is successful with drone deliveries in India, it will be interesting to see how other e-tailers would combat this move. We are already in the middle of the Amazon-Flipkart battle of one-upmanship and drone deliveries will surely take it to another level.