Fast food chain Wendy's is planning to trial an AI chatbot in place of human staff

a car in a Wendy's drive through
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The rise of AI and chatbots continues. Whether it's nightmarish AI-generated content or bots doing your homework, AI is here to stay. And it's only going to become more prevalent in the years ahead.

One more task previously exclusive to us irrelevant meatbags is set to be taken over. The popular fast food chain Wendy's is getting ready for a trial run of replacing drive-through human order takers with an AI-powered chatbot.

According to the Wall Street Journal (via Techspot), the trial is set to begin in June at one of its stores in Columbus, Ohio. The aim is to make customers believe they are talking to a real employee, instead of a chatbot. Wendy's has been working on the specifics of with Google.

Wendy’s chief executive Todd Penegor described the chatbot by saying, "It will be very conversational. You won't know you’re talking to anybody but an employee." Pengenor also said the goal is to streamline the ordering process and prevent long lines in drive-through lanes from turning customers away.

Your next upgrade

(Image credit: Future)

Best CPU for gaming: The top chips from Intel and AMD
Best gaming motherboard: The right boards
Best graphics card: Your perfect pixel-pusher awaits
Best SSD for gaming: Get into the game ahead of the rest

Wendy’s is building its software on top of Google's large language model, or LLM. It's being designed to understand accents and the nuances and variations of human speech as well as understanding terms and abbreviations specific to Wendy's products. Importantly, it also needs to be able to distinguish the voice of the person making the order from background noises, whether that's a song playing on the radio or the kids in the back seat yelling at each other. It's also programmed to upsell customers on bigger sizes, special offers, and frosties.

I wouldn't be concerned if I knew my order was being taken by an AI, but if I got home and discovered pickles in my frosty or sugar in my coffee (I said no sugar!), then I'd think about going to McDonald's instead. At least the AI's feelings won't be hurt.

Chris Szewczyk
Hardware Writer

Chris' gaming experiences go back to the mid-nineties when he conned his parents into buying an 'educational PC' that was conveniently overpowered to play Doom and Tie Fighter. He developed a love of extreme overclocking that destroyed his savings despite the cheaper hardware on offer via his job at a PC store. To afford more LN2 he began moonlighting as a reviewer for VR-Zone before jumping the fence to work for MSI Australia. Since then, he's gone back to journalism, enthusiastically reviewing the latest and greatest components for PC & Tech Authority, PC Powerplay and currently Australian Personal Computer magazine and PC Gamer. Chris still puts far too many hours into Borderlands 3, always striving to become a more efficient killer.