- 7-Eleven is testing robotic delivery in West Hollywood, California, in partnership with Serve Robotics, as was first reported by food tech news site HNGRY on Wednesday.
- 7-Eleven has been involved with Serve since late 2021, when 7-Ventures, the investment branch of 7-Eleven dedicated to early stage investments, invested in a $13 million seed funding round.
- Serve “did start delivering for 7-Eleven some weeks ago” a spokesperson for the robotics company said in an email. Robot delivery for 7-Eleven currently saves customers the cost of a tip, and is only available when ordering through its 7Now app.
Robotic deliveries have the potential to ease some labor problems for c-stores, assuming, as HNGRY pointed out, that the robots perform as well or better than humans. Serve claims that, with over 20,000 deliveries completed, it “has attained exceptional on-time delivery, fulfillment, and customer satisfaction metrics.”
The plan is for this test to eventually spread to other locations.
“7-Eleven and Serve invested significant resources into integrating our robots with the 7NOW app with the ambition to scale this partnership,” said the spokesperson.
Serve delivery robots can carry up to 50 liters and have cupholders to stabilize drinks and enough space for four pizza boxes, according to its website. They can navigate autonomously through a series of sensors, or can be piloted remotely. When reaching its destination, the robot’s compartment requires a passcode to open. The robots pollute less than an internal-combustion-engine vehicle making the same delivery, the site claims.
Customers cannot specifically request robot delivery, but may be offered one when they place their order.
The robots were already on the streets in West Hollywood delivering orders for Uber Eats. Uber, which spun off Serve as its own company in February 2021, has also been testing Serve in Los Angeles since May. 7-Eleven began offering the option of robotic delivery in the area in October.
7-Eleven did not return a request for more information by press time.
Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven Inc. owns, franchises or licenses over 13,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada. The company also owns Speedway and Stripes c-stores, as well as the Laredo Taco and Raise the Roost restaurant chains.