AI now available at a local drive-thru near you

21 May 2021
The system greets each customer at the drive-thru and answers questions about the menu, suggests menu items and enters orders into the point-of-sale system. Source: Intel

Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) is being used by a Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken Restaurant, a Midwest fast food joint, to speed service in drive-thrus.

The AI system was created by Hi Auto and powered by Intel Corp.’s Xeon processors in the cloud and Intel NUC mini-PCs. The system greets each customer at the drive-thru and answers questions about the menu, suggests menu items and enters orders into the point-of-sale system.

The technology uses speech to ensure order accuracy and converses like a person. If a guest asks an unrelated question about something not on the menu, the AI switches to a human employee to answer. The AI integrates with Lee’s existing employee headset system to give the employees real-time updates to inventory.

“We’re increasingly seeing restaurants interested in leveraging AI to deliver actionable data and personalize customer experiences,” said Joe Jensen, vice president of the Internet of Things Group and general manager of retail, banking, hospitality and education at Intel. “With Hi Auto’s solution powered by Intel technology, quick-service restaurants can help their employees be more productive while increasing customer satisfaction and, ultimately, their bottom line.”

According to NPD Group, drive-thru orders in the U.S. rose by 22% due to the COVID-19 pandemic while drive-thru times increased by about 30 seconds. Using AI will help employees focus fulfilling the orders, managing inventory and interacting with in-store customers.

The next steps are to deploy Hi Auto’s AI system in additional Lee’s drive-thru locations with pilot projects already underway and add Spanish language capabilities to the system.

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com


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