back to article Show us the sauce code... Wendy's and Google to test drive-thru order-taking bot

Wendy's and Google have together built a chatbot for taking drive-thru orders, using large language models and generative AI. The system works by converting spoken fast-food orders to text that can be processed by Google's large language model. A generative component added to the system is designed to make the chatbot interact …

  1. steviebuk Silver badge


    Destory the min wage jobs so everyone can continue to struggle even more. As has been said, if you're going to destroy min wage jobs you need to give every person a set benefit each month to compensate for no longer being able to do a job.

    We also need to remember these are starting off point jobs. So people who run McDonald's stores are often franchise stores. They work from the bottom up. If you can no longer work from the bottom up you'll struggle to get in the middle because they're be less and less jobs available due to everyone being desperate for those positions.

    1. Rikki Tikki

      Re: Great


      At least in Australia, many of these fast food service jobs are taken up by young people as their first job - where they gain experience of the work environment, as well as training (and whatever else you say about McD's in particular, they do provide good training, can't speak for Wendy's). Take those opportunities away and you have a lot of school leavers trying to enter higher level jobs with no experience and little in the way of customer service skills.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Great

      Multiple states in the US controlled by republicans have passed or are working to pass laws loosing restrictions on child labor - letting kids work younger, work longer hours and later hours during the school year etc. The reason claimed is that "not everyone goes to college, this gives them valuable work experience" but the real reason is the very low employment rate in the US is making it harder for companies hiring traditionally minimum wage jobs to find people to work.

      Because clearly they aren't going to do the obvious thing and raise wages, so this lets them hire people who have zero living expenses and are therefore able to work cheap!

      Replacing those minimum wage workers with AI and robots is obviously the longer term plan, but I guess they need a way to keep hiring people at $7.25 an hour in the meantime.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Great

        Good on the GOP for doing something sane.

        "Because clearly they aren't going to do the obvious thing and raise wages, so this lets them hire people who have zero living expenses and are therefore able to work cheap!"

        That is the WHOLE POINT of these jobs. You don't hire someone with 10 years of burger flipping experience because no-one should be making a career out of this. You hire some spotty kid who wants some extra pocket money. Raising wages prices the first timers out of the market.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Great

          You think making it possible to hire 14 years olds to serve alcohol, reducing corporate liability for on the job injuries of minors, etc. is a GOOD thing? I guess you would say if people could hire 6 year olds who can fit into small spaces in the looms to work 15 hour days that would be a good thing if it brought clothing manufacturing back to the US? Let's return to the good old days before unions came along and fucked things up, right? Regulations like minimum working age, maximum working hours etc. are bad, we should let the market regulate itself, because that always works so well!

          You can dream all you want for the world of 50 years ago when adults weren't working in fast food but that hasn't been the reality for a long time. If those people get pushed out of their jobs by kids willing to work for $7.25/hr what are they going to do, when the same republicans are making it harder to quality for welfare or for unemployment because "they should be working". They aren't taking those jobs because they are better than the alternatives, they are taking them because there are no alternatives. Once they become homeless I guess you can claim it is the democrats fault there are so many homeless people?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Great

            Maybe you need to look into why adults are still working as burger flippers and have not been able to climb the ladder. Fix the cause, not the symptoms.

            Most people seem quite happy to turn a blind eye to the fact their overpriced fashion was probably made by children. Out of sight, out of mind. Why is it OK for a child in Mexico or Bangladesh to work to make your cheap tat while western kids think they are entitled to a university education and expect to walk into a 6 figure job?

            "I guess you can claim it is the democrats fault there are so many homeless people?"

            Well given that a very large % of homeless are in blue cities and states, yes. But then this seems to be the plan for that section of the uniparty. Destroy the middle class and have just a ruling elite and an underclass who are effectively slaves of the state. The politicians will never fix anything as their livelihood relies on constantly promising that they are the only ones who can fix it IF you let them spend some more money.

        2. Ideasource

          Re: Great

          Careers themselves have an unhealthy tendency to put the cart before the horse.

          I've seen people lose their entire life and even all sense of identity to these roles they are payed to play.

          Sure every once in awhile someone gets their their mortgage paid off and gets the hell out of the rat race to redeem the rest of their life for themselves and their family

          But those are the exceptions rather than the rule.

          Too many become a serpent chasing their own tails.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great

      The incessant screeching to have and then raise the minimum wage by a certain political demographic has destroyed these jobs. Burger flipping is not a $15/hr job nor is it a career. These jobs were always meant to be short term things for young people yet the constant call to up the wages has raised the bar for entry.

      This is self inflicted. The aim is to have an underclass who are dependant on govt handouts so the politicians can prattle on about UBI and equity and make promise after promise while actually doing little more than lining their own pockets.

      1. NeilPost Silver badge

        Re: Great

        I bet you don’t earn (up to) $15 bucks/hr or have any remote concept of what living on that meagre income level is like.

        Whether burger flipping, shelf-stacking or cleaning.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Great

          I worked as a night shift cleaner at a supermarket which helped me pay my way through uni.

      2. Ideasource

        Re: Great

        Well the real solution is to tie minimum wage dynamically to the national GDP.

        That way it Auto adjusts for inflation without further litigation.

        For things to get better the newer generations need to be willing to hold the economy hostage for the capitalists to register their value by their own rules.

        Under capitalism it's worth whatever people are willing to do the job for.

        So to properly communicate with the capitalist at the top the new generation s have to hold the economy hostage through strikes and personal resilience else failed to communicate effectively

        The future belongs to the young.

        Such as the eternal relationship.

        The older generations are merely Stewards.

      3. Ideasource

        Re: Great

        Versus others lining their pockets off the backs of poorly paid laborers that don't want to give anything back?

        With a choice between a 2 sets of untitled Lords to serve as unofficial vassal to, I prefer the set that is vested in the fulfillment my basic needs and those of fellow citizens.

        It's pretty simple.

    4. JulieM Silver badge

      Re: Great

      No human being should be coerced into performing any labour that could be performed satisfactorily by a machine.

      In the event of any dispute, the onus of proof shall be upon the person claiming that the job done by a machine is unsatisfactory.

      If every job that could be done by a machine was done by a machine, then we could divide up the residual labour fairly among the population and guarantee all the essentials of life -- food, shelter, clothing, transport, energy and so forth -- to everyone who promises to perform their fair share of it. Which probably would work out to be something like a 16-hour week, until their mid-30s.

      Retirees would then be free to pursue, and seek payment for, their own projects.

  2. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

    *sigh* this is not going to end well. Even if the thing works as advertised - and I bet it doesn't - what happens when some technical hitch shuts the thing down? It's a recipe for hangry customers and disgruntled staff.

    I'm not a big fan of drive-thrus anyway, but dealing with the bored-sounding, barely concentrating human operator is infinitely preferable to dealing with a machine.

    Have these people learnt nothing from supermarket self checkouts? The majority of people do not like them, as evidenced by the long queues winding away from the one or two remaining human staffed checkouts while many of the self checkouts stand idle. Humans like to interact with other humans, maybe a little idle chitchat while packing bags etc. "Surprising item in bagging area, please wait for assistance" just isn't the same. There will be tears before bedtime. Again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why wait for a technical hitch? You can be sure that the first day out, someone's going to order 1000 burgers, then drive off without paying. Or grab a shopping cart and make a hundred orders for 10 burgers. Tons of fun will be had on 4chan/TikTok/Reddit by people finding ways to game the bot. How much profanity can the bot handle? Can it f'ing handle a f'ing order with f'ing profanity every f'ing word or two? You know someone's going to find out. Social engineering is for computers now too.

      1. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

        Absolutely! People will fuck about with it, either for gain or just for fun. And then there will be those with unusual accents, speech impediments or, as you say, an abundance of profanity. The opportunities for chaos are endless. This is not a good idea!

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Works in Columbus, Ohio, perhaps. I wonder how it would work in Glasgow?

          Wendy's are claiming that they're not replacing workers with this technology, but it seems hard to see where they're going to fit... more people 'cooking' behind the scenes perhaps?

          1. NeilPost Silver badge

            Could be. McDonald’s has transitioned over the last few years - accelerated by COVID and their nifty app) from a traditional fast food service to the Argos (catalogue shop) model / where you barely order/interact at the (now minimal) manned checkouts and just pick-up your meal (or have it delivered to table, car or home).

            1. JulieM Silver badge

              Well, all it really has to do is remind customers that they serve only McDonalds' Cola if they ask for any other brand of cola-flavoured beverage .....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm totally on the other side of the fence. The computer will at least pay attention, unlike the human operator, and so is much less likely to miss instructions. And maybe it'll actually turn on the "this is your order" screen, unlike the human operators nearly every time.

      As for supermarket self checkouts, I *MUCH* prefer doing it myself; in the time I'd spend just waiting in line, I can scan, bag, and pay. And the bagger (me) has no trouble with my reusable bags. And knows better than to put the milk in the same bag as the bread. Where I shop, the self-checkouts have the same length lines as the human-staffed ones, except when it's longer but moves much faster because it's feeding half-a-dozen checkouts.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        I don't know what you are doing scanning and bagging. Use the scanny thing or your mobile phone, put the stuff straight from the shelf to your bag and then just do the pay bit. The checkout workers now run up and down scanning their ID cards and authorising vodka sales. Much less sedentary, better for the health.

  3. abend0c4

    Insufficiently ambitious?

    Given that these fast food places serve essentially the same basic ingredients, all they really need to do is dispense some sort of Huel-style Fishchick McSlurry into a bucket of the requested size.They could probably reduce the entire process to one button (one press per pint) and a card reader. Bring Your Own Bucket, of course.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about AI that converts Wendy’s fried grease to real food?

    AI, show us what you’ve got

  5. very angry man


    AI sex bot, almost food fetish

  6. xyz Silver badge

    Oh great....

    I can't get a person to understand my order through the existing tin-o-phones at drive thru's (US "spelling") so christ knows what fun I'll have speaking to an AI.

    I feel sorry for AIs already, at least people can quit a job.

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