Fast Food Chains Are Finding AI Mistakes Piling Up

More drive-by than drive-through, 70% of AI restaurant orders need to be fixed by human workers.

For all the buzz surrounding artificial intelligence, as a “game changer” deploying it in the real world certainly has its headaches.

Exhibit “A” is an AI chatbot developed for the fast-food sector that’s trained specifically to take and process customer drive-through orders.

The chatbot, called Presto Voice, was created by Presto Automation in San Carlos, Cal. The company counts Hardee’s, Del Taco, Outback Steakhouse, and Carl’s Jr. on its client list.

The company promises a 6% revenue boost with the AI bot, most of it comic cash saved on labor for fast food franchises – if it works correctly.

A new report from Bloomberg says that’s not exactly the case.

Tracking recent U.S. Security and Exchange Commission filings, Bloomberg found that Presto Voice is “less autonomous than it first appeared.”

Reportedly, human agents have had to intervene in more than 70% of AI customer interactions at Carl’s Jr. and Checkers, although both companies declined to comment on the AI snafus at various global locations.

Not as Advertised?

While Bloomberg noticed the AI order assistant was originally marketed as human-independent, that campaign was recently altered to include references to “human intervention”.

“We felt the need to ensure this nuance was conveyed to market participants to enable them to understand our cost structure and to explain what makes our solution stand out,” a Presto spokesperson told Bloomberg in an email. Now, Presto is noting its use of “off-site workers” to better train the AI system to pick up orders more clearly and curb processing mistakes.

“Our human agents enter, review, validate, and correct orders,” said new CEO Xavier Casanova, during a recent earnings call. “Human agents will always play a role in ensuring order accuracy.”

While some credit should go to Casanova for admitting human intervention on what was billed as an all-AI order processing assistant for restaurants, the Presto saga should hit home with companies looking to roll out public-facing artificial intelligence tools. Both customers and investors have to ask more probing and more difficult questions of AI companies before signing any investment checks.

Meanwhile, Presto is now under investigation by the SEC for “certain aspects of its AI technology”, Bloomberg notes. Additionally, its stock slid 6% on the news in a year where Presto’s share price has plummeted 70%.

Presto is hoping its humans in the C-suite can correct those downbeat numbers, too.

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