Drone Delivery Takes Off for Quick Commerce in Cities


The booming quick commerce sector in urban areas is on the cusp of a futuristic transformation – drone deliveries. Industry predictions estimate that by 2027, nearly 30% of all quick commerce deliveries in major cities will be carried out by drones.

Faster Speeds, Lower Costs with Drones

This shift towards drone deliveries is driven by the significant advantages it offers to quick commerce businesses. Drones can potentially cut delivery times by up to 50% and slash costs by 30% for these players. Analysts also point out that operating costs for drone delivery services are substantially lower (40% to 70%) compared to traditional vehicle delivery models.

Logistics Players Experimenting

Several logistics companies are actively experimenting with drone deliveries. They achieve this by partnering with drone startups that provide “drone-as-a-service” solutions.

How It Works

The process is relatively simple. Participating drone startups establish sky pods within residential societies. These sky pods serve as landing zones for drones carrying parcels up to 10 kg. A delivery person, referred to as a “skywalker,” collects the parcels from the sky pods and completes the final delivery to the customer’s residence.

Existing Implementations and Future Plans

One such drone startup has already partnered with four logistics companies for delivering packages to residential societies in Gurugram. They have set up sky pods in over 70 mapped societies, with three currently operational. These operational societies facilitate over 1,000 drone-powered deliveries per day. Their ambitious goals involve scaling this number to 10,000+ daily deliveries across more than 100 societies within the National Capital Region by the end of 2024.

The company emphasizes their mission to revolutionize last-mile logistics by making it “faster, more sustainable, more efficient, and cost-effective.” Each drone delivery translates to a reduction of approximately 520 grams of carbon emissions. This translates to a potential saving of 80 tons of carbon emissions for 1,000 daily deliveries.

According to the startup, the growing popularity of quick commerce, with major players entering the fray, will significantly boost the adoption of drone deliveries. Additionally, the civil aviation ministry is expected to introduce regulations to expedite the mainstream adoption of drones. Currently, drones are already permitted for various services, including vaccine delivery, infrastructure inspections, agricultural tasks, and land mapping.

Industry Leaders in Drone Delivery Trials

Another logistics unicorn began its drone delivery trials in August 2023 and currently facilitates over 5,000 deliveries per month within Gurugram. Their trials are crucial for gathering valuable data and refining delivery processes to ensure efficiency and reliability. The company plans to expand its delivery volumes and reach new locations soon, with the pace of expansion contingent on the success of ongoing trials, regulatory approvals, and technological advancements.

A different logistics startup envisions a stronger potential for drones in long-distance deliveries. They are currently testing drones for same-day and next-day delivery services. Their goal is to leverage drone technology to enhance delivery speed, improve efficiency, and reduce carbon emissions. Presently, the company conducts around 150 to 200 daily drone deliveries as part of their trials. Beauty products, personal care items, medicines, and fashion items are some of the categories being delivered via drones. Upon successful completion of the pilot phase, the company intends to expand its drone delivery operations to more pin codes in Gurugram, followed by other major cities.

Another player in the drone space plans to deploy a fleet of close to 6,000-8,000 drones this year. These drones will be capable of providing agricultural and logistics services across 400 districts.

The potential of drone deliveries to revolutionize quick commerce in urban areas is undeniable. With significant benefits in terms of speed, cost, and sustainability, this futuristic technology is poised to take flight in the near future.

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