This Company Promised to Transform Drive-Thrus With AI — But the Secret Powering Its Tech? Humans. Presto Automation Inc., one of several major players in AI-ordering tech, has made headlines for using off-site employees in places like the Phillippines.

By Entrepreneur Staff

Key Takeaways

  • Fast-food chains, including Wendy's, have started using in-house or outsourced AI tech to take drive-thru orders. 
  • A major player in the AI-ordering game is using "off-site agents" to ensure order accuracy in more than 70% of customer interactions

Artificial intelligence has been hailed as a game changer for many sectors, including the restaurant industry, which has dealt with soaring labor costs over the past decade.

The promise of using AI to lower labor costs is particularly appealing for fast-food restaurants with drive-thrus, where up to 14% of orders were placed inaccurately in 2023, according to a study from Intouch Insight. Fast-food chains, including Wendy's, have started using in-house or outsourced AI tech to take drive-thru orders.

Related: How the NLRB's New Joint-Employer Rule Will Affect Franchisees and Franchisors and Redefine Franchise Relations

But according to new SEC filings from Presto Automation Inc., a major player in the AI-ordering game, "off-site agents" actually help ensure order accuracy in more than 70% of customer interactions, Bloomberg reported.

Presto's sales pitch to its clients, which include Del Taco, Carl's Jr. and Checkers, is that utilizing its tech to take drive-thru orders will free up workers to prepare food. It claims its "friendly, human-like AI voice assistant is available 24/7, always operates at peak efficiency, and never forgets to upsell."

But it turns out the company is using a critical tool to ensure order accuracy — humans. It employs off-site employees in countries including the Phillippines to double-check orders in more than 70% of cases, according to Bloomberg. The company told the outlet in an email that this process "helps train its system and should reduce human intervention over time."

"It highlights the importance of investors really understanding what an AI company can and cannot do," Brian Dobson, an analyst for Chardan Capital Markets, told Bloomberg.

Presto, which was founded in 2008, went public in September 2022. Its tech is used in more than 400 restaurants. The company's stock fell more than 10% as of Friday afternoon.

Related: Can Presto Automation Bring AI to the Drive-Thru?

Entrepreneur Staff

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Leadership

Mastering the Skill of Convincing Stakeholders to Approve and Execute Ideas

There's a big difference between approval-seeking and being your own biggest advocate.

Side Hustle

These Are the Highest-Paying Side Hustles for a Single Day of Work

Earn the most money in the least amount of time.

Business News

TikTok's CEO Is an Honorary Chair at the 2024 Met Gala

Conde Nast's Chief Content Offer, Anna Wintour, made the announcement Thursday.

Business News

This Job Hack to Escape Layoffs Is Gaining Popularity — But It's Divisive: 'It Altered My Brain Chemistry'

U.S. workers, especially younger generations, are considering government jobs for more security.

Money & Finance

5 Proven Ways to Maximize Your Profitability as a First-Time Author

Unlock the secrets to turning your debut book into a profitable venture with proven marketing tactics.