Hardee’s And Carl’s Jr. Replace Workers With AI Drive-Thru

Hardee's and Carl's Jr. are going to have AI take orders at the drive-thru.

By Chad Langen | Updated

Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. are the latest restaurants that have joined the growing trend of fast food chains incorporating artificial intelligence systems into their drive-thru operations, according to WEAU. By leveraging AI technology, the two burger chains aim to enhance order accuracy and expedite service for their customers. This move aligns with the broader industry shift toward implementing AI-driven solutions to streamline operations and improve the overall customer experience within the fast food sector.

CKE Restaurants Holdings, the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. fast food chains, has announced a collaboration with AI companies Presto Automation, OpenCity, and Valyant AI to introduce voice ordering automation in its drive-thru establishments. OpenCity’s AI-powered voice ordering platform, known as “Tori,” will be deployed in specific locations across the United States. With this system, customers will have the convenience of placing their orders with Tori and then proceeding to the pickup window to finalize payment with a staff member, ensuring a seamless and efficient ordering experience.

Sam Munger, Vice President of Northland Management Services, emphasized the remarkable transition of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.’s business towards off-premises channels, particularly drive-thru operations, amid the pandemic. In order to optimize efficiency, CKE thoroughly assessed its drive-thru processes, aiming to improve the overall customer experience while enabling the management team to concentrate on essential responsibilities such as training, order accuracy, and food quality. The introduction of Tori proved instrumental in freeing up the management team’s capacity to evaluate and manage various aspects of the restaurant beyond the drive-thru.

Valyant AI announced the availability of its conversational AI platform, “Holly,” at drive-thrus at participating Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. locations nationwide. By streaming the customer service experience, Holly, like OpenCity’s Tori, enhances employee efficiency, reducing wait times for customers and creating more upsell opportunities. Additionally, Presto plans to introduce its AI-powered technology, Presto Voice, to automate voice ordering at drive-thru locations throughout the country.

detect AI
The new order taker at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s

The implementation of AI solutions in companies such as Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. has raised valid concerns among employees regarding the possible replacement of human workers by artificial intelligence. This fear of job displacement and the belief that AI technology could assume their roles has generated anxiety within the workforce. Additionally, customers have expressed apprehension about interacting with AI systems instead of human employees, highlighting the importance of balancing automation and maintaining personalized customer experiences.

Sam Munger addressed concerns about AI potentially replacing human jobs, providing reassurance that such displacement won’t occur. He emphasized that both Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. are actively hiring and have not reached full staffing levels. This implies that the implementation of AI technology, the voice ordering platform Tori, is meant to enhance operational efficiency rather than eliminate human employment opportunities.

Furthermore, Munger expressed his optimism for the implementation of AI drive-thrus at Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., foreseeing potential growth opportunities. He based his positive outlook on the promising preliminary results observed during the initial testing phase at select locations. Munger also said he was confident in the suitability of AI drive-thrus for high-traffic locations and densely populated areas.