Convenience stores could become even more convenient, thanks to autonomous vehicles and robots. Nuro Inc. and 7-Eleven Inc. yesterday announced that they plan to launch what they claimed is “the first autonomous commercial delivery in the state of California.” Customers in Mountain View, Calif., will be able to order items to be delivered through the 7NOW app.
“7‑Eleven has owned and defined convenience since 1927,” stated Raghu Mahadevan, chief digital officer at 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.”
“With the announcement of our first commercial deployment with 7-Eleven, Nuro is embarking on a real path towards the widespread deployment of our service,” said Jiajun Zhu, co-founder and CEO of Nuro. The company last month raised $600 million in Series D funding.
Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven worked with Flirtey on the drone deliveries, while Mountain View-based Nuro has also partnered with FedEx, Kroger, and Domino's Pizza.
Nuro delivers in hometown
“The delivery service will begin with our fleet of Prius vehicles in fully autonomous mode, followed by our custom-designed electric R2 autonomous vehicles,” said Zhu. He credited federal and state regulatory progress that enabled Nuro to test and operate driverless vehicles for deliveries.
“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,” said Zhu. “Nuro is teaming up with 7‑Eleven to change that.”
“We’ve always wanted to bring Nuro’s autonomous delivery to our local community and to our neighbors,” he added. “We couldn’t be more excited to do this with an iconic neighborhood store like 7‑Eleven in our hometown, Mountain View.”
All of Nuro's Priuses will include a safety driver to monitor the technology and ensure an optimal delivery experience as the service is introduced in the Mountain View area, noted 7-Eleven.
The R2 bots are built to transport products and goods without any occupants in the vehicle. In December 2020, Nuro said it became the first autonomous vehicle company to receive a deployment permit from the California DMV, enabling the launch of its service in collaboration with 7‑Eleven.
7-Eleven customers can use an app to order
7-Eleven customers in the select service area can browse the 7NOW delivery app to purchase snacks, food, and household items, with autonomous delivery as an option at checkout. Such deliveries are available from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. PT at no additional charge, said 7-Eleven.
The app will send updates as an order is processed, and 7-Eleven said it will arrive within about 30 minutes. Customers can then retrieve items from the back or compartment of the autonomous vehicles.
The global market for last-mile autonomous deliveries will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.4%, growing from $11.9 billion in 2021 to $84.72 billion in 2030, according to Allied Market Research. It said North America is the leading market.
AllTheResearch predicted a smaller but still growing market, with a 22.2% CAGR from $12.2 billion in 2020 to $49.6 billion in 2027.
Other companies working on deliveries with drones, mobile robots, and self-driving cars include Flytrex, DroneUp, Starship Technology, Meituan, and Wayve, among others.
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