Tech Testing at McDonald’s, Yum, and Wendy’s

Tech Testing at McDonald’s, Yum, and Wendy’s

The restaurant industry is facing rising labor costs and searching for ways to cut down on expenses. One avenue they are exploring is the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) in drive-thru ordering. However, it seems that widespread adoption of this technology is still a few years away.

According to a survey by the National Restaurant Association, 16% of restaurant operators are planning to invest in AI, particularly in voice recognition technology. Large chains are leading the way in this investment, as they have the resources and scale to make AI work for their businesses. The push for AI adoption has been further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased labor costs and shifted focus towards drive-thru operations.

Despite the potential benefits of AI in drive-thru ordering, there are also challenges and drawbacks. McDonald’s, for example, recently ended its trial with IBM for Automated Order Taker AI technology due to issues with accuracy and interpreting accents. Other companies, like Presto Automation, have faced criticism for using human agents to complete AI orders, which may deter some operators from adopting the technology.

While AI in drive-thrus may not be perfect yet, there is optimism that adoption will increase in the coming months and years. Analysts predict that in the next 12 to 18 months, major restaurant chains will fully embrace voice ordering technology, following the path of early adopters like Taco Bell and White Castle.

Despite the potential benefits of AI in drive-thru ordering, there are also drawbacks to consider. Restaurants risk damaging their reputation if the technology leads to inaccurate orders and delays. Additionally, some customers, particularly older age cohorts, may prefer human interaction over AI ordering systems.

In conclusion, while AI technology holds promise for streamlining operations and reducing costs in the restaurant industry, it still has a long way to go before widespread adoption. Companies will need to address challenges such as accuracy, customer preferences, and technical limitations before AI drive-thru ordering becomes the norm in the industry.