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AIs and fries: Wendy’s to Trial Chatbot Drive-thru Operator

Wendy’s drive-thru customers will be able to place orders using an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot called “Wendy’s FreshAI,” which was developed in collaboration with Google Cloud.

According to a May 9 release from Google Cloud, more than three-quarters of Wendy’s customers prefer to place their orders via drive-thru, and the Tech Giant claims that deploying a chatbot to service these customers will “revolutionize the quick service restaurant industry.”

Natural language processing is used by AI chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT to understand what people are saying, and machine learning techniques are used to provide a response. Wendy’s CEO and president Todd Penegor told the Wall Street Journal that the chatbot “will be very conservational,” adding that “you won’t know you’re talking to anybody but an employee.”

However, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian observed that there are numerous obstacles connected with employing chatbots to service drive-thru consumers, 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.”

One problem that Wendy’s and Google Cloud will face is the diversity of customer orders, as many consumers may refer to menu items by a different name or have unique requests. Furthermore, the chatbot must filter out any background noise.

Wendy’s FreshAI will undergo a test launch at a Columbus, Ohio, restaurant in June to help perfect the AI chatbot before it is pushed out to numerous stores. Customers will still be able to speak with a live person

However, not everyone is pleased with the move, with some claiming it is the latest example of firms “systematically eradicating jobs” and pointing out that the change will disproportionately affect teens and those who are less skilled and looking for work. While AI has immense potential to improve efficiency, productivity, and cost-cutting in a variety of industries, its extraordinary rise has many concerned that it may result in major job losses as AI is employed for activities formerly assigned to people.


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