Two Fast Food Chains to Roll Out AI Drive-Thru

If you are a fan of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, you might be surprised by the voice that greets you at the drive-thru window the next time you visit. That’s because the two fast-food chains have announced that they will use artificial intelligence (AI) to take orders from customers at select locations across the country.

The AI technology is provided by Presto, a company that specializes in customer service solutions for the restaurant industry. Presto claims that its AI platform, called Presto Voice, can improve speed of service, accuracy, and upselling at the drive-thru.

According to CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, the AI technology has been tested at a handful of locations and has exceeded expectations. Phil Crawford, the chief technology officer at CKE, said that the AI technology “enables our franchisees to adopt these new technologies into their tech ecosystem(s) in a streamlined and efficient manner.”

The AI technology works by integrating with existing drive-thru ordering platforms and point-of-sale systems. Customers can speak to the AI voice through a speaker and see their order on a screen. The AI voice can also suggest additional items or upgrades to customers based on their order. The technology does not replace human workers, but rather assists them by reducing their workload and allowing them to focus on other tasks. That’s what they claim anyway.

Presto’s CEO and founder, Krishna Gupta, said that the partnership with CKE is the largest launch to date for Presto Voice and the biggest rollout for automated drive-thru ordering across the restaurant industry. He added that “as restaurant owners and franchisees continue to struggle with issues caused by the labor shortage, technological solutions like ours are critical to supporting existing staff and ensuring customer service remains a top priority.”

The AI technology will be available at participating corporate and franchisee locations of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s nationwide. The two chains have about 2,800 restaurants across 44 U.S. states.


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