The financial capital, notorious for its traffic snarls, has achieved a first in the country after a city-based pizza outlet used an unmanned drone to execute a delivery by taking the aerial route recently.

"All of us had read about Amazon’s plans of using drones. We successfully carried out a test-delivery by sending a pizza to a customer located 1.5 km away from our outlet on May 11,” Francesco’s Pizzeria chief executive Mikhel Rajani said. He stressed that this was only a test-flight but its results confirm that it can be used routinely in a few years. A four-rotor drone took off with the order from its outlet in central Mumbai’s Lower Parel area and delivered it to a high-rise building in adjacent Worli area, Rajani said, claiming that it is for the first time that the ubiquitous drone has been used for such a purpose in the country.

Rajani said the drone saves time and cost for a company like his, which would otherwise depend on a two-wheeler to deliver the pizzas. “What we have done now will be commonplace in the next four-five years,” he said, adding every such customised drone costs around Rs 1.20 lakh. At present, there are certain restrictions on the regulatory front like the drone not allowed to fly above 400 ft altitude and barred from flying over security establishments. Apart from that there are technical difficulties like a limited operating radius of 8 km after which the batteries go dry, he said, adding proper infrastructure like having charging stations can help. Even though the 4-rotor version drone had a limited carrying capacity, he said the payload capacity can be increased to up to 8 kg in case of a an eight-rotor drone.

Beyond the strategic applications, the drones are increasingly being used for a cross variety of purposes especially the ones centred around getting aerial imagery like getting videos at weddings, political rallies etc.

During the test-flight, the drone picked up a box containing the pizza but bigger drones will be easily able to lift the special flask box which can protect the pizza from the atmospheric elements, he said.

30 kmph
Average speed of the drone

65 watts
The battery that the drone uses in flight