Though its test program is likely more of a publicity stunt than anything else.
7-Eleven has done something that Amazon hasn’t: It’s made regular drone deliveries to customers in the United States.
The convenience store chain, in partnership with commercial drone startup Flirtey, delivered snacks, hot and cold food, and over-the counter medicine by drone throughout the month of November. The trial involved a dozen customers in Reno, Nev., all of whom lived within a mile of the test store.
On Tuesday, the companies announced they completed their 77th drone delivery (which means on 77 separate occasions, shoppers were saved from the heartbreak of visiting a 7-Eleven store and seeing those sad, rotating hot dogs).
Amazon, which set off the drone delivery race in 2013 when it announced its Prime Air program, made its first commercial drone delivery to a customer in the U.K. earlier this month.
Customers involved in the 7-Eleven drone program placed their orders via an app, which notified them when the drone was loaded, when it departed, and when it was arriving at their doorstep. Deliveries, on average, took less than 10 minutes.
While the trial is undoubtedly cool — according to the press release, one customer “was so excited by the experience that she called her family to tell them they had just become ‘the real-life Jetsons’” — for now, it likely exists for the publicity more than anything else.
Despite intense interest from Amazon and Google, Federal Aviation Administration drone regulations make it to hard for companies to roll out wide-scale drone delivery programs. While the agency softened some commercial drone rules in August, drones still can’t fly out of an operator’s line of vision or at night.