AI is ready to take your order. Are you ready?

Both Hardee’s and Wendy’s recently announced plans to implement artificial intelligence at their drive-thrus with Presto Voice, an industry leader for drive-thr
Published: May. 10, 2023 at 6:41 PM CDT
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EAST MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) - Every time you get directions on a phone, you’re using artificial intelligence.

Fitness watches, Google searches and streaming services are other examples of AI we use to transform everyday tasks. From data it collects, AI can analyze your health and recommend your next purchase or what new show or song you’re likely to enjoy.

Now, AI is taking your food order.

Both Hardee’s and Wendy’s recently announced plans to implement artificial intelligence at their drive-thrus with Presto Voice, an industry leader for drive-thru automation.

Checkers in the Quad-Cities has used the technology for the past eight months, and Brian Kiel, a franchisee of several Quad-Cities Checkers, said it’s simple to use.

“It’s gonna immediately ask, Would you like to try the double mushroom and Swiss cheese for $6? And then whatever the guest says, they will react to that,” Kiel said.

“AI does it perfectly ... typically,” he said while laughing.

Customers at the East Moline Checkers drive-thru said AI takes some getting used to, and might have to choose your words wisely.

“Say you want a chili dog with cheese and no onions. You have to make sure you say chili dog. You can’t say chili cheese dog, or it gets your order wrong,” Chris Barker said after placing his order

But AI gets smarter the more orders it takes.

“It’s going to continue to improve,” Kiel said. “Every time AI makes a mistake we take a picture of the order and send it to the support team, and that mistake rarely happens again.

Kiel and his employees said worries that this technology is taking away jobs are unfounded.

“Our aim was to help the operations of our restaurant. We were shorthanded, and weren’t getting applicants, and this has really helped us do that,” he said. “We’d be open at 2 in the morning and others can’t stay open past 10 because they don’t have the people.”

Forbes cited an IBM report this year that showed 25% of companies are using AI to address labor shortages.

Kiel said Checkers has AI that helps prospective workers fill out applications online. She’s called Mia. He said they don’t have a name yet for the voice that is taking food orders.

No matter how good, or not, the AI is, a real person can help.

“You have some that do not want to speak to a computer. That’s OK. You can request an employee,” Kiel said. “Or, if we can tell they’re getting frustrated we can intervene and get the order for the guest.

Like any new technology, it takes some getting used to, but, overall, Kiel says he’s glad he adopted AI months ago.

“It’s worked out really well for us.”


What was “she” like?

The system uses a woman’s voice that’s pretty lifelike and easy to understand. She asked for clarification on what variety of the Mother Cruncher chicken sandwich was ordered.

How accurate was it?

An order of one Mother Cruncher chicken sandwich and two Diet Cokes became two Mother Crunchers and one Diet Coke. But the cashier caught the mistake, and the order came out correct.

How common is AI?

Very. Checkers is using a chatbot – a computer system that mimics human interaction. You’ve encountered one if you’ve ever used an Alexa or asked a smartphone for directions.

We should expect to see more AI in our everyday lives as this technology progresses.