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Fast-food veteran, Wendy’s, has partnered with Google to introduce FreshAI, an AI-powered chatbot designed to receive drive-thru orders.

The Potential of Chatbots in Modern Foodservice Establishments

Set to test in June in Columbus, Ohio, this chatbot comes with all the bells and whistles. FreshAI was designed to understand various dialects, accents, unique franchise item names, and acronyms, in hopes of ensuring order accuracy.

Additionally, the chatbot was taught to cut through common background interference like music and general chatter. Lastly, FreshAI was programmed with sales savvy. To upsell items in the traditional fast-food manner, the chatbot will attempt to allure customers with offerings of larger sizes and add-ons.

A human hands another human a bag of food. The same will be found at Wendy's.
The chatbot’s use will be limited to the drive thru. Humans will continue to provide customer service and prepare food inside of Wendy’s.

Wendy’s Aims to Enhance Drive-Thru Efficiency With AI

Wendy’s is optimistic that this new AI program will elevate their customer experience by:

  • eliminating miscommunication
  • reducing long wait times
  • creating a smoother and more efficient drive-thru flow

The initial tests will monitor factors such as the ease with which customers are able to place their orders, all while mirroring the experience of speaking to a human employee rather than artificial intelligence.

Wendy’s Joins the Rank of Foodservice Chains Utilizing Artificial Intelligence

Wendy’s chatbot follows in the footsteps of other leading chains that have integrated or are testing new AI programs.

This list includes Panera Bread, Wingstop, CKE restaurants including Hardy’s and Carl’s Jr., and industry giant McDonald’s. For instance, in June of 2021, McDonald’s launched an AI-powered drive-thru service, albeit with some mixed results. Representatives cite that McDonald’s had anticipated an accuracy rate of 95%. After being tested, however, the accuracy rates ran closer to 80%.

Cars line up outside of a fast-food restaurant. Wendy's is looking to remedy this problem.
Long lines are a common complaint from fast-food consumers. Companies are looking to AI as a possible solution.

May I Take Your Order?

AI technology may be a potential solution to challenges faced in the fast-food industry, such as labor shortages or the demand for faster service and shorter lines. Perhaps sooner than we think, self-driving cars will roll up to a fast-food window and place an order to a chatbot. How do you think AI will evolve within the foodservice industry? Let us know in the comment section!

Next Up: 5 Waitstaff Robots Serving Up the Future


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