7-Eleven, the multinational chain of retail convenience stores, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, has started testing autonomous robot deliveries for the store’s most iconic food and snack products.
More than 13,000 outlets in the US and Canada are operated by the corporation through franchises and licensing, as well as stores in other countries, including South Korea. These shops offer a wide range of reasonably priced, high-quality goods and services, and the food and beverage selection at 7-Eleven locations includes items for the grill, beverages, coffee, and fountain soft drinks. Alongside fashion, home goods, wine, tobacco, and other items, the stores also sell music cards, game cards, phone cards, gift cards, and more.
7-Eleven began testing self-driving robots
In the past, 7-Eleven has been experimenting with autonomous delivery. With the help of the drone firm Flirtey, the business trialed autonomous delivery in Reno, Nevada, in 2016. Then in December 2021, 7-Eleven stores in South Korea started testing sidewalk delivery robots created by a local start-up called Neubility.
7-Eleven also partnered with Nuro, which has been navigating the regulatory and technical roadmap to launch commercial operations.
Partnered with Serve Robotics
Uber-backed food-tech start-up Serve Robotics partnered with 7-Eleven in the US, receiving $13 million in a seed funding round in 2021. With the company’s partnership with 7-Eleven, the robotics company hopes to grow its fleet of robots across the country.
UberEATS is already testing Serve’s robots in Los Angeles. The robot delivery for 7-Eleven is only available for orders made through the 7-Eleven delivery app, 7Now. Customers who use the autonomous robot delivery service pay a $2.99 charge, the same cost as for a human driver but without the requirement of a tip, with an estimated delivery time of 25 to 30 mins.
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Consumers can order a range of non-alcoholic beverages and snacks from Serve robots, which can carry loads of up to roughly 50 pounds and have cup holders and enough space for four pizza boxes. The robots are designed to deliver items across small distances of approximately three miles and are capable of remote-controlled operation or autonomous navigation using a network of sensors. Upon arrival, consumers use a code to retrieve their orders from the robot.
Serve Robotics launched its operations in 2017 and has been testing its autonomous delivery robots since 2018. Walmart and Pizza Hut Canada have also deployed Serve’s robots, in addition to 7-Eleven.
Automation is increasingly being utilized by businesses to address the labour crisis and increase productivity. The use of robots also creates less pollution than a traditional car making the same delivery. In a few years, more enterprises will use autonomous delivery to reduce their carbon footprint. This will also affect delivery costs and efficiency by cutting down on transit time and reducing operating costs.