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Wendy’s Taps Google Cloud to Trial AI Chatbot Drive-Thru Operator

Wendy’s FreshAI chatbot tool has the potential to transform Wendy’s drive-thru food ordering experience with Google Cloud’s generative AI and large language models (LLMs) technology

Wendy's Google Cloud AI

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US fast food restaurant chain Wendy’s partnered with Google Cloud to innovate the drive-thru experience with the new “revolutionary” generative AI-based chatbot Wendy’s FreshAI

According to the official announcement, about 70%-80% of Wendy’s customers prefer to place their orders via drive-thru. When the AI chatbot will take orders from the customers, Wendy’s CEO and president Todd Penegor claims that “You won’t know you’re talking to anybody but an employee.”

The use of new technology is supposed to facilitate the complex ordering experience at the fast food chain. Since the menu items are fully customizable, miscommunication may lead to incorrect orders. Therefore, the process long remained reliant on employee skills. Now, Google Cloud’s generative AI capabilities allow for automating the order-taking process, enabling employees to focus on making quality food and building relationships with the loyal customer base.

Although the service will be already piloted in June, there are still many challenges associated with using chatbots to service drive-thru customers. First, the AI will need to recognize some alternative names customers might use for official menu items. Besides, the technology must learn to filter out any background noise.

Initially, Wendy’s FreshAI will be piloted in a Columbus, OH-area, Wendy’s restaurant. Within the pilot phase, the partners expect to get some findings for more informative further expansions.

The pilot will include new generative AI offerings, including Vertex AI. The chatbot service will be able to have conversations with customers, understand made-to-order requests and generate responses to frequently asked questions.

Generative AI chatbot ChatGPT technology is already employed as a shopping assistant for Klarna and Mercari, as well as a booking assistant for the customers of Expedia.

Google itself has recently consolidated its AI teams to accelerate progress in developments in the field of artificial intelligence and is currently using AI to massively modernize its Internet search system. Meanwhile, the Google Bard artificial intelligence tool expanded its capabilities, being now able to provide programming assistance.

Nina Bobro

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Nina is passionate about financial technologies and environmental issues, reporting on the industry news and the most exciting projects that build their offerings around the intersection of fintech and sustainability.