Is the Drive-thru the Final Frontier for AI?

AI is so prevalent in our everyday lives – I wake up in the morning and ask Alexa about the weather, open Google Maps on the way to a meeting and find the fastest route into the city, Gmail offers a handful of reply suggestions to my emails using Smart Reply and now, all Tesla cars have full self-driving hardware. AI technology has simplified nearly every aspect of our day in and day out, but for some reason, ordering a burger at the drive-thru is just as cumbersome as it was 7 decades ago.

5thru Technology is hoping to change that process – with their drive-thru accelerator technology, restaurants are able to use license plate recognition for customer profiles and automated pre-pay while you’re still waiting in line (so you’ll never need to take out your wallet and stretch out to the window ever again). Line time is cut down by 55% using their system, and it even has the ability to up-sell customers with AI-based recommendations using historic data on a customer’s past orders.

5thru’s founder, Daniel McCann, told CIODive, “Drive-thrus are one of those things that are still being done today as they were 50 years ago… it’s largely ignored the new technologies that are available today. I think it’s ripe for an overhaul to bring it into the 21st Century.”

The drive-thru accounts for nearly 70% of fast-food sales, but the convenience and technology behind them have remained stagnant with line times growing as a result. There are countless opportunities to collect data when ordering from a drive-thru; restaurants could build customer profiles, implement intuitive recommendations and aggregated consumer insights at the hyper-localized or regional level for data-driven menu selections.

The 21st century has made our mornings, commutes, workdays, and leisure times so much smarter and more intuitive, and if self-driving cars are pulling up to McDonald’s in the near future, it’s about time the drive-thru was brought into 2019 through data collection and machine learning for a better customer experience.

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PUBLISHED BY Emily French

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