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12/01/2021

7-Eleven pilots autonomous delivery service in California

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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7 Eleven store with Nuro car in front
7-Eleven is piloting autonomous delivery.

7-Eleven is launching the first autonomous commercial delivery in the state of California with a new service available via its delivery app.

The convenience store giant is partnering with autonomous vehicle company Nuro in an autonomous delivery pilot in Mountain View, Calif. Customers in the service area can place orders through the retailer’s 7Now delivery app to have their products brought to them by a Toyota Prius equipped with Nuro’s self-navigation technology.

Later, 7-Eleven plans to expand the pilot to introduce R2 bots, Nuro’s autonomous robots that are custom-built to transport products and goods without any occupants in the vehicle. Nuro became the first autonomous vehicle company to receive a deployment permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles in December 2020, enabling the launch of this service in the state in collaboration with 7-Eleven.

To use the autonomous delivery service, customers can download or open the 7Now delivery app, browse the app to purchase eligible items, add them to their shopping cart, begin the checkout process, and choose autonomous delivery.

The 7Now delivery app will send updates as the order is processed, and orders will arrive in approximately 30 minutes. Customers then meet the autonomous vehicle outside and grab their items from the back of the vehicle. Autonomous vehicle deliveries are available daily from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. PT at no additional charge for customers in Mountain View, Calif.

7-Eleven has been actively growing its roster of third-party online delivery options since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The retailer has entered partnerships with seven different on-demand delivery platforms, and in May expanded the range of deliveries it offers via Instacart. In addition to Instacart, 7-Eleven offers delivery via Uber Eats, Grubhub, Postmates, DoorDash, and Google, as well as through regional same-day provider Favor in Texas. 7-Eleven also provides proprietary on-demand delivery via its 7Now app, which was introduced in late 2017.

And 7-Eleven is not the first retailer to test the effectiveness of Nuro autonomous vehicles for delivery. Kroger, a direct competitor with Walmart in the grocery space, has piloted self-driving deliveries with Nuro vehicles in Houston and Scottsdale, Ariz. In December 2019, Walmart and pizza chain Domino’s both began testing the Nuro R2 for deliveries in the Houston area.

"7-Eleven has owned and defined convenience since 1927," said Raghu Mahadevan, 7-Eleven chief digital officer. "Our first foray into autonomous delivery was in 2016 when 7-Eleven became the first retailer in the U.S. to make a drone delivery to a customer's house. Since then, we haven't stopped looking for ways to redefine convenience for our customers inside and outside the four walls of our stores. Fast forward to 2021, and we are pushing the boundaries of innovation even further to provide customers with the first commercial autonomous delivery service in California. I can't wait to see where we go from here."

"Residents in the state of California – a major hub of innovation – have never been able to experience the commercial delivery of goods by an autonomous vehicle. Nuro is teaming up with 7-Eleven to change that," said Jiajun Zhu, Nuro CEO and Co-Founder. "We've always wanted to bring Nuro's autonomous delivery to our local community and to our neighbors. We couldn't be more excited to do this with an iconic neighborhood store like 7-Eleven in our hometown, Mountain View."

Based in Irving, Texas, 7 Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 71,100 stores in 17 countries, including 11,800 in North America.