India’s leading e-tailer Flipkart is planning to use drones to deliver goods to rural areas. The catch is that civilian drones are not allowed in India but the Bangalore-based company is expecting to convince the government because it helps remote parts of the country.
Also this is an integral part of the company’s vision as Flipkart sees itself more as a technology and engineering company with expertise in the supply chain, said Binny Bansal, the company’s chief operating officer.
“We are looking at drones for rural deliveries,” he said. “We’ll have to start talking to the regulators. That is the way technology can solve the commerce problem in the country.”
Last October, the government banned drones after private users like a pizza joint in Mumbai experimented with the unmanned airborn mini-vehicles. The Director General of Civil Aviation cited security threats to ban drones in Indian airspace.
Bansal said Flipkart was adapting technologies to Indian conditions and costs and was keeping the options open to deploy robots, having already gone paperless in large parts of its logistics, where both time management and cost control are critical.
For instance, as many as 100,000 packages have to be sorted for delivery in as many as 200 towns, and optimising resources is a key problem to be solved. Flipkart, which has a staff of 33,000, uses geo-coding of packets and handheld computers to help its field staff operate faster and cheaper. It has a core technology team of 1,200 engineers.
“We are a technology and engineering company doing the supply chain. That’s how we look at ourselves,” Bansal said. “We do all our technology in house. We don’t rely on third party companies like Infosys. We don’t look at technology as a support.”