Thursday, October 14, 2021

May I take your order? How AI is changing fast-food drive-thrus


By Ronnie Koenig

Fast food chains including Sonic, McDonald's and Checkers are already trusting robots to take your order.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many Americans have turned to the drive-thru as a safer means of picking up food. For some, the voice on the speaker by the menu board may be the only other person they interact with all day. But a new wave of technology that is set to transform the fast-food industry may change all that. The next time you order a value meal, it might be the equivalent of Siri or Alexa taking your order. As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to play a big role in our daily lives, customers should prepare for an automated voice to ask: Do you want fries with that?

Innovators like Rob Carpenter, founder of Valyant AI, say that the use of AI at the drive-thru is set to take off in a major way over the next six months to a year.

Carpenter estimates that this new technology will have a massive impact on the fast-food industry's bottom line, and not just because they will be getting more cars through, faster. "There's also a higher rate of successful upsells," he said, referring to when a team member asks if you'd like a muffin with that coffee or an apple pie with your value meal. "The AI can double the number of successful upsells, and it's simply because the AI is more consistent about asking." While an employee can get tired, unmotivated or simply forget, AI never forgets.