Wendy’s Teams Up With Google Put AI In The Drive-Thru

Wendy's teams with Google to put AI in the drive-thru lanes.
Fewer jobs but fewer mistakes in the drive-thru?

When did you last sit in a long line at Wendy’s or end up with a messed-up order? Well, the fast food giant is looking to eliminate both by teaming with Google and shoving artificial intelligence into the drive-thru lanes.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Dave Thomas-founded restaurants will automate the ordering process. The AI being implemented is a chatbot powered by software developed by Google. The aim is to create a bot that can provide human-like interactions with customers while also upselling them during the ordering process.

When thinking about it, this makes sense. A majority of Wendy’s orders are made via the drive-thru. Ordering off a menu means you have a set number of items and combinations. Training a chatbot to understand these is only part of the problems Google has to contend with. According to Google’s Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian, the chatbot must process human speech that can be misinterpreted by the combined noise and din occurring outside.

What will the overall cost be? Not of the technology, but to the workforce? Wendy’s restructuring efforts want to see expenses stagnate for two years while also increasing sales by as much as 8% by 2025. Allegedly, the AI chatbot wasn’t spawned from the restructuring plans, and Wendy’s Chief Executive Todd Penegor isn’t going to use the new technology to eliminate staff. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if that’s true.

The first company-owned location to use Google’s software-driven AI will be in Columbus, Ohio. However, it’s unclear if franchise owners must install the chatbot ordering system.

If the AI becomes self-aware, will it tell customers they could order a salad instead of three Baconators (and a Diet Coke)? Or will the chatbot become The Baconator, looking to wipe out humans with a long game involving clogged arteries and diabetes?

[Source: Wall Street Journal]
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Mike Phalin

Longtime problematic entertainment journalist. The former workhorse for Dread Central, ScienceFiction.com, and Fanbolt.

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