US retailer 7-Eleven has fulfilled its first fully autonomous drone delivery to a customer’s home as it plans to “redefine convenience”.
7-Eleven joined forces with drone delivery service Flirtey to complete the first-ever commercial drone delivery in the US to a shopper in Reno, Nevada - a milestone that coincided with the c-store specialist’s 89th anniversary.
The drone delivery, which was fulfilled in line with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval, was navigated by the device’s internal GPS system and flew autonomously to the customer’s home from one of the convenience retailer’s nearby outlets.
The order, which was delivered in two tranches to the shopper’s home, included items including a chicken sandwich, doughnuts and coffee.
7-Eleven’s executive vice-president and chief merchandising officer Jesus Delgado-Jenkins said: “Drone delivery is the ultimate convenience for our customers and these efforts create enormous opportunities to redefine convenience.
“This delivery marks the first time a retailer has worked with a drone delivery company to transport immediate consumables from store to home. In the future, we plan to make the entire assortment in our stores available for delivery to customers in minutes.”
7-Eleven’s maiden drone delivery comes after Amazon gained approval from the FAA to start testing unmanned aircraft deliveries in the US last March, before the etailer called for a separate air zone space to be created for drone orders to be fulfilled.
The etail giant also got the go-ahead from the UK Civial Aviation Authority to explore drone delivery in Britain earlier this month.
Asda owner Walmart also applied for permission to test drone deliveries in October and is already piloting their use in warehouses to manage its inventory.
The drones can capture 30 images per second and flag any misplaced items across the US retail giant’s distribution centres, while a control tower oversees the images on a screen and sends alerts to staff to fix any issues.
During Retail Week’s visit to Bentonville, Arkansas for Walmart shareholders week, the retailer said the drones had the capability to check inventory across the distribution centre in a day or less – an operation that takes about a month for staff to undertake manually.