Amazon might first test its much awaited drone-powered delivery in India before anywhere else, thanks to the absence of modern laws on unmanned aerial objects. The Economic Times reported, citing unnamed sources, that the online retailer will be trying out its Prime Air drone delivery service in Mumbai and Bangalore where customers will get their purchased products within 30 minutes delivered by a drone.
Amazon says its drones will be able to carry packages weighing upto 2.26 kg. Such packages account for 86% of the products sold on the site. The service might start during the festive month of October, ET reported.
While the company has chosen not to comment on this, the first mention of the possibility of Amazon testing its Prime service in India appeared as speculation by an analyst on US stock research website SeekingAlpha about ten days ago.
India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation has no laws governing drones yet though it is planning to come out with some regulations. As things stand now, “Amazon will not be breaking any laws in India,” said Bharat Malkani, an aviation expert and CEO of Mumbai-based Max Aerospace.
Amazon revealed its drone delivery service in 2013 but so far has been involved in a tussle with the U.S. aviation authorities to test them outdoors as commercial use of drones is banned in most parts of the country. The Federal Aviation Administration had said delivering packages using drones would be considered illegal in the U.S.
But drones in India have run into problems before. Earlier this year in May, Mumbai police questioned a pizza outlet that used a drone carrying an empty pizza box for a promotional video.
But for their troubles, the video captures the exciting promise of drones and created a lot of buzz for the pizzeria.
If Amazon carries through the reported initiative, it can create a lot of buzz for the website here, where it is locked in a battle for supremacy with local powerhouse Flipkart. It took Amazon less than 24 hours to announce an investment of $2 billion after Flipkart raised $1 billion.
But things can always turn sour for Amazon if the DGCA comes up with prohibitive laws, says Malkani. India ranked 134 out of 189 countries on the Ease of Doing Business rankings in 2014, slipping by three notches since 2013.
India doesn’t allow foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail—a stand that seems unlikely to change. This has forced Amazon to adopt a marketplace model here.