Wendy’s to trial chatbot drive-thru operator
An artificial intelligence chatbot dubbed “Wendy’s FreshAI” will take orders from Wendy’s drive-thru customers after the fast-food chain partnered with Google Cloud to create the bot.
Over three-quarters of Wendy’s customers prefer to place their orders via drive-thru, according to a May 9 announcement from Google Cloud, with the tech giant claiming that using a chatbot to service these customers will “revolutionize the quick service restaurant industry.”
AI chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT use natural language processing to understand what people are saying, and then use machine learning algorithms to generate a response.
“Generative AI helps companies transform applications and services. @Wendys is at the forefront of applying #generativeAI into their business in ways that help transform the customer, employee, and overall restaurant experience”—@MaribelLopez https://t.co/bS2IQXZdWU
— Google Cloud (@googlecloud) May 9, 2023
Wendy’s CEO and president Todd Penegor told The Wall Street Journal in a statement that the chatbot “will be very conservational,” adding, “You won’t know you’re talking to anybody but an employee.”
Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian noted, however, that there are many challenges associated with using chatbots to service drive-thru customers saying:
“You may think driving by and speaking into a drive-through is an easy problem for AI, but it’s actually one of the hardest.”
The diversity of customers’ orders is one challenge that Wendy’s and Google Cloud will have to overcome, as many customers might call menu items by a different name or have special requests. Additionally, the chatbot will also have to filter out any background noise.
To help refine the AI chatbot before it is rolled out to multiple stores, Wendy’s FreshAI will undergo a pilot launch at a Columbus, Ohio, restaurant in June. Customers will still have the option to speak to a human too.
Related: 5 ways AI is helping to improve customer service in e-commerce
Not everyone is impressed with the announcement , with some arguing it’s the latest way companies are “systematically eradicating jobs” and highlighted teenagers and others who are less skilled looking to gain employment would be the most affected by the change.
@Wendys joining the ever growing list of companies systemically eradicating jobs. Guess high school kids can just suck it for part time jobs to give them a start in the world. Enjoy your AI and bankruptcy. I’m not talking to a computer. #DeathofFastFood pic.twitter.com/BbggeblhOz
— -PAPatriot— (@PAPatriot14) May 10, 2023
While AI has enormous potential to improve efficiency, increase productivity and reduce costs in various industries, its unprecedented growth has many worried that it will bring about massive falls in employment as AI is used for tasks previously assigned to humans.
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