Wendy’s introduces AI technology to enhance the fast ordering experience with a chatbot

Google announced last Tuesday (5/9) that Wendy’s, a well-known fast-food chain in the United States, will be introducing a chatbot developed using Google Cloud’s generative AI and large-scale language model technology to assist customers with ordering at the drive-thru. The chatbot will first be implemented at a Wendy’s company-owned store in Columbus, Ohio, starting in June this year.

The chatbot operates by importing Wendy’s menu and interacting with customers based on specific logic and business rules. Additionally, the system will be integrated into the restaurant’s hardware and point-of-sale systems. As more than 75% of Wendy’s customers choose the drive-thru option, automating the ordering process will enhance service efficiency and allow employees to focus more on food preparation, ultimately boosting sales.

However, Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud, mentioned to The Wall Street Journal that implementing this technology is not an easy task. With Wendy’s offering a diverse range of items and billions of possible ordering combinations, coupled with noise in the drive-thru environment, it adds complexity to the development process. He explained that the AI system needs to accurately identify sounds inside the car, such as music, children’s voices, or genuine ordering instructions, and handle situations where customers modify their orders. It is a highly complex technical challenge, but they have successfully addressed these issues, and the AI system can even upsell by asking customers if they would like to order larger meals or add promotional items for the day.