Robotics And Ai From The Plant Floor To Your Local Fast Food Restaurant 647104af24edb

Robotics and AI: From the plant floor to your local fast-food restaurant

May 26, 2023
Wendy's plans to use an underground autonomous robot system to deliver food to hungry customers in the parking lot.

We are consistently surrounded by new and innovative technologies that are constantly changing how we interact with the world. At work, we’re utilizing industrial automation and robotics to complete repetitive and potentially harmful tasks, allowing workers to use critical thought to improve the business. At home, we’re employing artificial intelligence to power our smart devices and appliances while verbally ordering groceries through our virtual assistants. It should come as no surprise then that this cutting-edge tech has made its way into one of the foundational pillars of American life. I’m speaking, of course, about fast food.

Recently, Wendy’s announced that it has partnered with Pipedream, a self-proclaimed hyperlogistics company, to take food delivery to the next level. The fast-food chain plans to use an underground autonomous robot system to deliver food to hungry customers in the parking lot. Once operational, this system would be able to transport food from the kitchen to a customer’s parking spot in mere seconds. The company hopes this quick service restaurant (QSR) model will make pick-up orders more convenient and accurate. Car-side Instant Pickup portals allow digital customers to obtain their orders without ever leaving their cars.

Matt Spessard, Senior Vice President and Global Chief Technology Officer, commented, "At Wendy's, we are consistently innovating to meet our customers however they choose to engage with us, The Wendy's Company. "As mobile ordering preferences increase, we're thrilled to be the first quick service restaurant to partner with Pipedream, leveraging their unique delivery technology and system with the goal of reinventing digital pick-ups to bring more Wendy's to more people as quickly and efficiently as possible."

This announcement comes shortly after the fast-food giant announced that it would be working with Google Cloud to revolutionize the drive-thru process. Called Wendy's FreshAI, the innovative solution utilizes generative AI and large language models (LLMs) technology to improve the ordering process. Since 75-80% of Wendy’s traffic comes through the drive-thru, creating a seamless ordering process is essential, and the company plans to use AI to make this happen. Google Cloud's generative AI capabilities will have to overcome several hurdles, however, including a robust menu, special requests, and ambient noise. This new tech will be tested at one of Wendy’s Columbus, Ohio, restaurants this June. According to the company, the implemented AI will have the ability to converse with customers, understand made-to-order requests and even answer questions. To make all this possible, Google's LLMs will have access to Wendy's menu, established business rules and logic for conversation guardrails, and integration with restaurant hardware and the point-of-sale system.

Todd Penegor, President and CEO of Wendy's, recently said, "Wendy's introduced the first modern pick-up window in the industry more than 50 years ago, and we're thrilled to continue our work with Google Cloud to bring a new wave of innovation to the drive-thru experience. Google Cloud's generative AI technology creates a huge opportunity for us to deliver a truly differentiated, faster and frictionless experience for our customers, and allows our employees to continue focusing on making great food and building relationships with fans that keep them coming back time and again."

About the Author

Alexis Gajewski | Senior Content Strategist

Alexis Gajewski has over 15 years of experience in the maintenance, reliability, operations, and manufacturing space. She joined Plant Services in 2008 and works to bring readers the news, insight, and information they need to make the right decisions for their plants. Alexis also authors “The Lighter Side of Manufacturing,” a blog that highlights the fun and innovative advances in the industrial sector. 

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