Hi Auto brings conversational AI to drive-thrus using Intel technology

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Hi Auto is increasing the efficiency of drive-thrus with a conversational AI system powered by Intel technologies.

Drive-thru usage has rocketed over the past year with many indoor restaurants closed due to pandemic-induced restrictions. In fact, research suggests that drive-thru orders in the US alone increased by 22 percent in 2020.

Long queues at drive-thrus have therefore become part of the “new normal” and fast food is no longer the convenient alternative to cooking after a long day of Zoom calls.

Israel-based Hi Auto has created a conversational AI system that greets drive-thru guests, answers their questions, suggests menu items, and enters their orders into the point-of-sale system. If an unrelated question is asked – or the customer orders something that is not on the standard menu – the AI system automatically switches over to a human employee.

The first restaurant to trial the system is Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken in Ohio.

Chuck Doran, Owner and Operator at Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, said:

“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.”

By reducing the number of staff needed for customer service, more employees can be put to work on fulfilling orders to serve as many people as possible. A recent survey of small businesses found that 42 percent have job openings that can’t be filled so ensuring that every worker is optimally utilised is critical.

Roy Baharav, CEO and Co-Founder at Hi Auto, commented:

“At Lee’s, we met a team that puts its heart and soul into serving its customers.

We operationalised 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 Lee’s at additional customer sites.”

Hi Auto’s solution runs on Intel Xeon processors in the cloud and Intel NUC.

Joe Jensen, VP in the Internet of Things Group and GM of Retail, Banking, Hospitality and Education at Intel, said:

“We’re increasingly seeing restaurants interested in leveraging AI to deliver actionable data and personalise customer experiences.

With Hi Auto’s solution powered by Intel technology, quick-service restaurants can help their employees be more productive while increasing customer satisfaction and, ultimately, their bottom line.”

Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken restaurants plan to rollout Hi Auto’s solution at more of its branches. A video of the conversational AI system in action can be viewed here:

Going forward, Hi Auto plans to add Spanish language support and continue optimising its conversational AI solution. The company says pilots are already underway with some of the largest quick-service restaurants.

(Image Credit: Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken)

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