The next time someone orders fries with their milkshake, they might be talking to a robot. At least, that’s what American fast food chain Wendy’s has planned.
Next month, Wendy’s will test an AI-powered chatbot with the ability to talk to customers and take their orders.
The pilot program, dubbed “FreshAI,” is powered by Google Cloud AI software. It will launch in the Columbus, Ohio area.
In a press release, Wendy’s said it was designed to revolutionize the fast food restaurant industry.
“By leveraging generative AI, Wendy’s seeks to remove complexity from the ordering process so employees can focus on serving fast, fresh, quality food and exceptional service,” the company said.
Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian said: “Generative AI is fundamentally changing the way people interact with brands, and we anticipate that Wendy’s integration of Google Cloud’s generative AI technology will set a new standard. for great self-service experiences for the quick service industry..”
This bot will be trained to know that when a customer orders a milkshake, they are actually ordering a Frosty ice cream, the Wendy’s version. But as of 2022, the accuracy of the bot’s commands was 79%, according to Intouch Insight. Wendy’s hopes to increase that to 85% or more to compete with other fast-food chains testing similar technology.
Wendy’s is not entirely a pioneer in this field. Last year, McDonald’s opened a fully automated restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, and rolled out more AI-powered drive-thrus across the country.
Like the newly automated McDonald’s, Wendy’s restaurants will employ real humans to monitor the drive-thru to make sure the chatbot understands every order, or if a customer requests to speak to a human.
Other fast food chains like Sonic and Popeyes are also experimenting with AI.
Tech companies Google, IBM and Microsoft have been racing to introduce their version of an AI chatbot to the world since the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT last year.
Such drastic changes to the fast food industry are likely to raise fears that jobs once exclusively done by humans will be taken over by robots.