Convenience store giant 7-Eleven is pairing up with Nuro to pilot a commercial delivery service using autonomous vehicles in the Silicon Valley enclave of Mountain View, California.
The service, which customers can access beginning December 1 through 7-Eleven’s 7NOW delivery app, will initially use Nuro’s self-driving Priuses. Eventually, the service will use Nuro’s R2 delivery vehicles, which were custom built to delivery only packages — not people.
7-Eleven has experimented with autonomous delivery in the past. In 2016, the company tested autonomous delivery in Reno, Nevada with drone company Flirtey. This month, the operator of 7-Eleven stores in Korea, began testing the use of sidewalk delivery robots developed by local startup Neubility in the southern district of Seoul.
The partnership with Nuro is designed as a commercial service, not a research and development project. However, a company spokesperson still described this as a pilot. This will be a commercial enterprise, but it will be a limited one, at least at first.
Nuro has been navigating the regulatory and technical roadmap to launch commercial operations, like so many others, for years. Nuro had signaled in December 2020 that it planned to start commercial delivery operations early this year after receiving the final necessary permit needed to operate commercial driverless services on public roads in California. It seems it was delayed and is now kicking off. Nuro was the first company to clear this regulatory hurdle after receiving a permit from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
Nuro didn’t name the intended commercial partner or city at the time. It makes sense that Nuro is choosing its home turf of Mountain View as its initial launch point.
Nuro has launched numerous other pilots outside of California, including with Kroger and FedEx.