Wendy's and Google Cloud announced an expanded partnership to pilot an artificial intelligence (AI) solution,Wendy's FreshAI. The technology has the potential to transform Wendy's drive-thru food ordering experience with Google Cloud's generative AI and large language models (LLMs) technology.
Demand for Drive-Thru
With 75 to 80 percent of Wendy's customers choosing the drive-thru as their preferred ordering channel, delivering a seamless ordering experience using AI automation can be difficult due to the complexities of menu options, special requests, and ambient noise. For example, because customers can fully customize their orders and food is prepared when ordered at Wendy's, this presents billions of possible order combinations available on the Wendy's menu, leaving room for miscommunication or incorrect orders. Google Cloud's generative AI capabilities can now bring a new automated ordering experience to the drive-thru that is intended to enhance the experience that customers, employees and franchisees expect from Wendy's. As HT reported last month, one Wendy's franchise, Wenspoke, is expanding its use of AI in the drive-thrus.
"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," said Todd Penegor, President and CEO of the Dublin, Ohio-based QSR. "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."
Pilot Near HQ
In June, Wendy's plans to launch its first pilot of Google Cloud's AI technology in a Columbus, Ohio-area, Company-operated restaurant, using those learnings to inform future expansions to more Wendy's drive-thrus. The pilot will include new generative AI offerings, such as Vertex AI and more, to have conversations with customers, the ability to understand made-to-order requests and generate responses to frequently asked questions.
This will all be powered by Google's foundational LLMs that have the data from Wendy's menu, established business rules and logic for conversation guardrails, and integration with restaurant hardware and the Point of Sale system. By leveraging generative AI, Wendy's seeks to take the complexity out of the ordering process so employees can focus on serving up fast, fresh-made, quality food and exceptional service.
Today's update builds upon Google Cloud's and Wendy's long standing partnership to enhance the Wendy's restaurant experience. Since 2021, Wendy's has leveraged Google Cloud's data analytics, AI, machine learning (ML), and hybrid cloud tools to make it faster, easier, and more convenient for customers to access the brand.
LG Business Solutions USA will debut the new innovative LG CLOi ServeBot (model LDLTR30) restaurant-focused service robot at the National Restaurant Association Show 2023 in Chicago May 20-23.
Restauranteurs visiting the LG booth 6875 will be able to learn about the upgraded CLOi ServeBot making it even easier for restaurant owners to improve staff efficiency, safely deliver large amounts of food and dishes at once and provide patrons a futuristic experience that encourages repeat visits and word-of-mouth promotion via social media.
Operating up to 11 hours on a single charge, the new CLOi ServeBot offers impressive customization options to meet the needs of various restaurant types. Customer-facing enhancements are primarily achieved through the 10.1-inch, 1200x800 full-color touchscreen, which can display menus, specials, videos, “last call” messages or a friendly digital robot face.
By increasing shelf size, adding a fourth shelf and making the shelves removable and adjustable with 2.8 inches of vertical movement, the new CLOi ServeBot increases total carrying capacity by 33 percent and ensures capability to fit items of any size.
At the end of its “shift”, or when power is low, the CLOi ServeBot can automatically return to the optional charging stand, which provides a full charge in just 3.5 hours, versus 4.5 hours from a 120V wall outlet.
In addition to the new robot, LG is debuting two display products at the show – the new 21.5-inch Outdoor Order Confirmation Display (model 22XE1J) that provides drive-through users with real-time order confirmation. The IP56-rated display can be mounted in horizontal or vertical orientation and automatically adjusts brightness based on ambient lighting, up to a maximum of 1,500 nits. It can be used in virtually any environment and is rated for temperatures from -30 degrees to 50 degrees Celsius.
Also new is the 27-inch LG Kiosk, (model 27KC3PK-C) which allows restaurants to offer customers a self-service ordering station. Its 1080p HD screen ensures consistent excellent image quality and legibility, while the tabletop design enables simple placement and installation. It includes a QR Code reader, integrated credit card/chip reader and receipt printer, so orders can be completed in one place.
NRA Show News: New Coca-Cola Flex Dispenser Offers 40+ Drink Choices
Coca-Cola will showcase Coca-Cola Flex powered by Freestyle, a new beverage dispenser that offers an enhanced guest experience while reducing operational complexity.
With more than 40 beverage choices available in the same footprint as standard 6-valve fountain dispensers, Coca-Cola Flex combines the benefits of traditional fountain dispensers with the innovation and variety offered by Coca-Cola Freestyle. The next-generation dispenser is debuting at the 2023 National Restaurant Association Show on May 19 in Chicago.
With its sleek design, user-friendly interface, cutting-edge technology and over 40 beverage choices, Coca-Cola Flex creates an exciting beverage-pouring experience for foodservice guests. In addition to providing a simple installation and maintenance for operators, features of the front-of-house dispenser include:
PurePour™ Technology: Coca-Cola Flex uses carefully crafted recipes with micro-dosing pumps and proprietary PurePour™ technology to dispense the proper ingredients at the point of pour. The result is quality, fresh beverages from every pour.
New Design: The new dispenser boasts a 15” HD touchscreen display for smoother navigation and an engaging consumer experience.
Improved Crew Operations: Using and maintaining the Flex is easier with a new user-friendly interface, easier access to inventory alerts, quicker diagnostics and improved ergonomics. The small, eco-friendly SmartPAK cartridges are easy to change and take up less space than the traditional bag-in-box syrup.
Revel Systems announced a partnership with IPORT to offer its best-in-class products to restaurants and retailers. IPORT's stands and enclosures for Apple iPads streamline networking, charging, tablet protection, and presentation.
IPORT, a manufacturer, designs products such as Connect Pro to enhance the functionality of iPads for businesses. Connect Pro is an all-in-one system for holding, charging, and protecting iPads on table-tops or walls. Check them out in National Restaurant Association booth 438.
Together, GRUBBRR and Chef Irvine will showcase Samsung’s display technologies, highlighting its various use cases throughout the restaurant industry. GRUBBRR’s solutions help power Samsung’s suite of restaurant technology.
Robert Irvine partnered with GRUBBRR in March, joining as both an investor and brand ambassador. Together they are tackling challenges plaguing the restaurant industry, including labor shortages and rising food costs, and helping restaurant owners navigate the future of technology.
“For years, one of the biggest issues for restaurants has been labor, whether it’s no labor or poor labor,” said Robert Irvine. “Self-ordering technologies are eliminating inefficiencies in the industry, while simultaneously solving the labor challenge plaguing so many owners and operators. You can see the future of restaurants. The technology is here, now it’s time to adapt and get to work.”
NRA Show News: APEX Introduces Smart Pickup Lockers
Apex Order Pickup Solutions introduces its new NextUp Series of indoor/outdoor smart lockers designed to provide efficient, frictionless ecommerce and digital order fulfillment.
See the OrderHQ Exterior Smart Food Lockers and NextUp Smart Pickup Lockers at National Restaurant Association Show Booth 5839.
NextUp Smart Pickup Lockers ensure secure order pickup with minimal employee labor while providing customers with quick, convenient, and secure access inside or outside of the store 24 hours a day. This solves many of the inefficiencies encountered by businesses that rely on digital ordering for on-site pickup.
This new series uses proprietary ApexIQ software, which offers easy integrations with popular enterprise resource planning systems, POS software, mobile apps and more. ApexIQ software also offers a visual loading guide for employees, directional pickup guides for customers, and an easy-to-use portal that lets authorized users manage locker features and view data from one location or across their enterprise.
NextUp lockers help reduce errors for both employee order loading and customer pickup. They virtually eliminate mistaken pickups and stolen orders, ensuring that the right order goes to the right customer, at the right time. They also offer a helpful feature that automatically pops open the door if a customer leaves part of an order in the compartment. The lockers are IP54 rated, so they can be placed outside or in a store vestibule to give customers flexible, 24/7 access to their orders, without the need for an employee to be there.