As it turns the art world upside down, AI-powered technology is sweeping through another industry: fast food. AI-powered technology has been used in restaurants for some time to improve customer experience and monitor internal spending. Now AI-powered voice bots enter your orders.
Taco Bell’s parent company, Yum Brands, recently announced that it is testing an AI-powered conversational bot that will take orders in the drive-thru lane. According to Business Insider, the AI voice bot could help the chain “possibly automate orders.”
Meanwhile, earlier this year, Popeyes and Panera Bread began a partnership with OpenCity, a startup touting an AI-powered drive-through voice assistant. His name is Tori and it aims to help improve order accuracy, reduce grocery wait times and increase grocery sales.
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According to a Popeyes location that uses Tori, beverage sales increased 150% as Tori offers high-margin menu items to its customers. Restaurant owners sync Tori with their restaurant’s POS or kiosk system, eliminating the need for a staff member to take and place orders.
Then the customer drives to the shop window and receives their order, which according to OpenCity is 100% correct.
AI-powered voice bots like Tori will join other technologies used in quick service restaurants. Tori is a front-of-house “employee,” but other restaurant robots cook, clean, and serve food.
Robotics and AI in the food industry are a direct result of a crippling labor shortage as restaurants across the country have hundreds of thousands fewer employees than they did two years ago, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
Other applications for AI in the restaurant industry include using AI-powered vision to monitor drive-through efficiency. Companies like Plainsight offer their services to help restaurants mitigate lost sales when customers leave the drive-through because of long waits.
Companies like Starbucks recognized the monetary value of adopting AI years ago when they launched their mobile app in 2011. As the app grew, Starbucks integrated Deep Brew, its AI-powered management system that personalizes customer recommendations, eliminates time-consuming tasks for employees, and collects data to develop new products.
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AI can also help restaurants reduce waste, which helps reduce food costs and the environmental impact of food waste. Companies like Winnow are delivering AI-powered software to help restaurants reduce their food waste.
They have developed a kitchen tool called Winnow Vision that monitors what food is thrown in the bin and collects that data automatically. It uses this data to let kitchen staff know how much of which food is wasted throughout the day. Finally, according to the company, Winnow Vision will achieve full automation and reduce food waste by up to 70%.
Robotics and AI are increasingly being integrated into the food and beverage industry more than most people realize. And while these tools help with real problems, it might be about how easily they can replace human labor.