Automated Ordering Systems Are the New Drive-thru Attendants

The pandemic changed the use of technology in the restaurant industry. Now, QSRs are turning to IoT for automated, efficient ordering systems to increase sales and reduce errors. 

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Image credit: Hi Auto

Quick-service restaurants (QSRs) saw increased drive-thru sales amid the pandemic. According to a T​​echnomic consumer survey, more than 50 percent of quick-service restaurant orders were via drive-thru in August 2021, about a 10 percent increase from January 2020. This trend is expected to hold true in post-pandemic society as well. 

For many QSRs, increased drive-thru orders coincided with increased revenue; however, average time spent in a drive-thru also increased. Changing consumer behavior, increased wait times, and staff shortages lead many QSRs to incorporate new automated ordering systems using artificial intelligence and Internet of Things technologies. The Hi Auto conversational AI system does just that. 

The Hi Auto system, created by Hi Auto, helps QSRs increase efficiency and sales, making the system a star employee. The Hi Auto system, powered by the Intel® NUC Mini PC, uses deep learning AI to filter noise, process speech, and communicate with customers. Intel® Xeon® processors allow for natural language processing, making ordering easy for customers. Hi Auto can quickly process customers’ order changes and additions. Currently, Hi Auto only understands orders placed in English, but it can understand accents. 

Hi Auto’s audio box integrates with existing QSR speakers, microphones, and headset systems, so retailers don’t need to rip and replace. The Hi Auto system also integrates with the POS system, so Hi Auto can greet customers, take orders, and announce totals. Human employees can communicate with Hi Auto via headset. Once the system’s audio box is installed and connected, Hi Auto gets to work. Hi Auto uses a prerecorded greeting to welcome customers before taking their orders. It can also recommend additional menu items, an upsell feature that can help boost revenue for QSRs. 

Automation is Driving Sales

Fried-chicken restaurant Lee’s Famous Recipe recently ran a promising pilot with Hi Auto. The pilot showed a 94 percent order completion rate and a 95 percent accuracy rate, compared with an 84.4 percent accuracy rate for human employees. Hi Auto’s upsell feature has proven successful for Lee’s, increasing order total by two percent, according to Chuck Doran, co-owner of Lee’s. 

If Hi Auto needs assistance, it notifies a human employee. The employee then can use a headset to communicate directly with customers to complete the order. Employees can also update Hi Auto on the status of menu items. If an item is unavailable, employees can tell Hi Auto what the item is and how long it is unavailable. If a customer requests an item that is unavailable, Hi Auto notifies the customer. If possible, it tells the customer the calculated wait time for an unavailable item and asks if they would like to wait. 

Automated ordering systems help QSRs increase revenue. Human employees can focus on other tasks, such as food preparation and customer service. The Hi Auto system increases efficiency, reduces errors and wait times, and connects various QSR systems for a streamlined experience. 

Employee of the Month

Vistry also created an AI-powered restaurant automation system using Intel® technologies. Similar to Hi Auto, Vistry’s Discrn Platform filters background noise and includes a voice recognition system to record customer orders and communicate with employees. The voice bot automates customer interactions at the drive-thru or kiosk and integrates with existing kitchen systems to expedite order fulfillment. 

The Discrn Platform uses the Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO™ Toolkit to operate across an Intel architecture. It allows customers with mixed-computing environments to optimize their computer vision workloads; the cloud-to-edge automation trains the computer vision models at scale before pushing them out to individual locations. Vistry aims to reduce waste and increase productivity. Clients can monitor the real-time dashboard to better understand food production, waste, and staffing needs.

Intel, the Intel logo, and other Intel marks are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries.

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