White Castle’s AI Drive-Thru: 100 Locations by 2024
The latest addition to the list of fast-food chains replacing human staff with voice bots in their drive-thru lanes is White Castle. The chain announced that it will deploy SoundHound’s AI-powered voice bots in 100 drive-thru lanes by the end of 2024. This move comes as the restaurant industry faces challenges related to labor shortages and high turnover rates. This prompted an increasing number of chains to adopt automation tools, including AI and robotics.
White Castle among many to have AI drive-thrus
White Castle is part of a growing trend, as seven other national chains have also adopted conversational bots to process their drive-thru orders. For instance, McDonald’s has been testing AI-powered ordering in its drive-thru lanes since 2019. Business Wire reported that in 2022, Checkers and Rally’s was one of the first major chains to widely implement AI-powered voice assistants. As of August 2023, voice AI is operational in 390 out of the 803 Checkers and Rally’s restaurants. Additionally, several other chains, including Popeyes, Panera Bread, Taco Bell, Del Taco, Carl’s Jr., and Hardee’s, are also incorporating AI and voice technology into their drive-thru operations.
The adoption of technology and automation to address labor shortages is a growing trend. Approximately 58% of restaurant operators expect this approach to become more common in the current year, according to the 2023 State of the Restaurant Industry Report by the National Restaurant Association.
What sets their AI-powered voice systems apart
In a news release, SoundHound emphasized that its tech is entirely automated and does not rely on human assistance. This sets it apart from other AI-powered voice systems. This means it relies solely on intelligent automation to provide fast, accurate, scalable, and consistent service across various locations and channels. This includes kiosks, phones, and other devices.
The AI tech company shared a video on Twitter how the drive-thru would work. They wrote, “Check out SoundHound’s powered voice AI ordering technology at one of the @WhiteCastle drive-thru locations.” They also announced that this technology will be live in over 100 locations by the end of 2024.