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Intel-Based AI Assistant Brings Conversational AI to Drive-Thru

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A new conversational artificial intelligence (AI) solution is being deployed by Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken Restaurant in Ohio. The AI increases the speed of service and shortens the wait time at drive-thrus, which is one of the main challenges of any modern day restaurant. 

The new AI solution was developed by HI Auto, and it is what customers are greeted with upon entering the drive-thru. The AI also answers questions about the menu and takes the order.

Chuck Doran is owner and operator of Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken Restaurant in Englewood, Ohio. 

“The automated AI drive-thru has impacted my business in a simple way. We don't have customers waiting anymore. We greet them as soon as they get to the board and the order is taken correctly. It's amazing to see the level of accuracy with the voice recognition technology, which helps speed up service. It can even suggest additional items based on the order, which helps us increase our sales. If a person is running the drive-thru, they may suggest a sale in one out of 20 orders. With Hi Auto, it happens in every transaction where it's feasible. So, we see improvements in our average check, service time and improvements in consistency and customer service. And because the cashier is now less stressed, she can focus on customer service as well. A less-burdened employee will be a happier employee, and we want happy employees interacting with our customers.” 

Increase in Drive-Thru Customers

Last year in the United States, there was a 22% increase in drive-thru orders due to the pandemic, and they were responsible for 44% of all off-premise orders in the restaurant industry. However, this also caused the average drive-thru wait time to increase by about 30 seconds.

Long wait times stress out both customers and employees, and they slow down the entire process. The AI assistant enables human employees to focus on other duties, like fulfilling orders, managing inventory and interacting with customers inside the restaurant. 

Roy Baharav is chief executive officer and co-founder of Hi Auto. 

“At Lee's, we met a team that puts its heart and soul into serving its customers,” said Baharav. “We operationalized our AI system based on what we learned from the owners, general managers and employees. They have embraced the solution and within a short time began reaping the benefits. We are now applying the process and lessons learned at additional customer sites.”

Lee’s Famous Recipe Restaurant Uses Conversational AI to Power Drive-Thru

The AI-Assistant

The newly developed AI solution greets guests, suggests menu items, answers questions and enters orders. In order to ensure an accurate order, the AI isolates the customer’s speech. In the case that a customer asks for something not on the menu, the AI automatically switches over to a human employee, as it's integrated into the existing headset system. 

The AI relies on Intel Xeon processors in the cloud and Intel NUC.

Joe Jensen is vice president of the Internet of Things Group and general manager of Retail, Banking, Hospitality and Education at Intel. 

“We’re increasingly seeing restaurants interested in leveraging AI to deliver actionable data and personalize customer experiences,” said Jensen. “With Hi Auto’s solution powered by Intel® technology, quick-service restaurants (QSRs) can help their employees be more productive while increasing customer satisfaction and, ultimately, their bottom line.”

Alex McFarland is an AI journalist and writer exploring the latest developments in artificial intelligence. He has collaborated with numerous AI startups and publications worldwide.