American restaurant chain Wendy’s is planning to introduce its AI-assisted drive-thru platform to more restaurant locations across the US.

The pilot platform, called Wendy’s FreshAI, has been designed to overcome the challenges a traditional AI could not solve in a drive-thru, such as understanding casual conversation with customers and handling the restaurant chain’s menu, which offers a high degree of customisation and numerous configurations.

In May 2023, Wendy‘s partnered with Google Cloud to introduce the AI-based platform to take orders from customers. It was tested for several months at Wendy‘s location in Columbus, Ohio, and valuable lessons were learned in the process.

Accuracy — determined by the proportion of orders that Wendy’s FreshAI successfully processed without the assistance of restaurant staff — averaged 86% during the pilot.

Success in AI drive-thru service is measured by the number of orders submitted without human intervention and by offering a consistent experience to customers.

The AI system speeds up each service time by an average of 22 seconds.

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FreshAI is expected to act as an assistant, supporting rather than replacing the employees working at the drive-thru.

FreshAI has been deployed at four Wendy’s outlets in Columbus, Ohio, with more to be introduced by the end of 2023 and early in 2024.

The company plans to take a multi-channel approach by integrating the AI system into its app, in-restaurant kiosks, mobile devices and smart home devices.