AI Fast Food Drive Thrus Wrong 70% Of Time

The future is now, and tomorrow promises to be filled with human interactions with artificial intelligence. That prospect recently arrived in fast food drive-thrus, and the initial results are hardly encouraging for the human element.

Presto Automation now serves Carl’s Jr., Hardees, Del Taco, and Checkers in taking orders from customers. But more than 70% of these transactions require intervention by a carbon-based life form as the computers routinely enter the wrong information.

Dealing with fast food is frustrating enough, and now this.

The company admits that more than seven out of 10 transactions require “off-site agents” to intervene to get the order correct. And many of these agents are far, far away.

For example, a Presto representative told Bloomberg News that a substantial number are stationed in such locales as the Philippines. Their interactions with customers and the AI are intended to train the system to require less human intervention.

The company recently made a change to its website and claims about flawless service. Previously it declared that “Presto Voice consistently takes over 95% of the orders without any human intervention.”

But last month, that assertion changed to taking “95% of drive-thru orders without any restaurant staff intervention.” Nary a word about the Philippines.

This admission followed notification earlier this year from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC told Presto that it was under investigation over “certain aspects of its AI technology,” though the specific reason was not made public.

Company officials explained that by using off-site employees to supplement AI, restaurant workers do not need to leave the kitchen if there is an issue with the chatbot.

The company currently operates through 400 locations across the U.S., but its footprint is expanding.

Presto is also partnered with casual dining restaurant chains such as Applebee’s, Chili’s, and Red Lobster. Its website touts plans to expand to 1,200 locations next year.

Stock Analysis reported Presto shares plummeted 60% so far in 2023. Its current market valuation is approximately $59 million, and it is part of the inevitable trend of using AI and robots for everything from taking orders to flipping burgers.