Artificial intelligence hits local fast food restaurant drive-thru – KERO 23 ABC News Bakersfield

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — CKE Restaurants fully launched their new AI drive-thru system in early February, and now a month later employees say the system has helped, but they’re still working out the kinks.

  • Video shows Carl’s Jr. drive-thru, employees working in the kitchen, and information about the minimum wage increase
  • CKE Restaurants fully launched their new AI drive-thru system in early February, and now a month later employees say the system has helped, but they’re still working out the kinks.

Pulling through the drive thru may be a little different at Carl’s Jr. now that they introduced a new AI drive thru system.
“Welcome to Carl’s Jr. What can we get started for you today?” the system asks when you pull through the drive-thru.

It’s been a month since the full launch and employees says it’s been mostly positive for the restaurant.

One month ago, the Carl’s Jr. on Panama Lane became the first chain with CKE Restaurants to introduce the new AI drive-thru system in Bakersfield.

“There’s more positive than negative,” Axel Arcos, a shift leader at the restaurant said.

This comes as California fast food workers expect to see their minimum wage rates increased to $20 an hour under the recently passed Assembly Bill 1228.

“If you look at what California has done which is increase the minimum wage for fast food workers to 20 dollars an hour as of April 1st, there’s sort of an existential problem for restaurant owners,” Krishna Gupta, the chairman for Presto, the company responsible for the new technology said.

Arcos says regardless of how much he makes, he’s good as long as he has a job.

“At the end of the day, I need money. I feel like everyone does,” Arcos said.

When I asked Gupta about how he sees the new AI technology impacting jobs for local fast food workers, he says the technological advancements can take a job from someone who would work at the drive-thru, but he believes it would open up new job opportunities and increase efficiency.

“I think what you’re actually doing is you’re enabling the human beings who are in the restaurants who are still working there to be more productive and to be more valuable for the restaurants,” Gupta said.

Gupta adds the new system will help make customers happier too.

“I think people have this challenge where they go through the drive-thru. You order a burger and you don’t want pickles. You end up with a burger with pickles. The idea is the technology system will have a much higher rate of consistency,” Gupta said.

Arcos tells me for the most part the new system has helped him work better.

“For me, it’s been helpful.”

But, since it’s still early in the launch, he’s dealt with some problems.

“Like there have been problems where someone said there was a $70 order and he’s like I only wanted a burger,” Arcos tells me.

For now, they’re still working out some of the kinks, but Arcos emphasizes the problems are minor compared to the positive response from customers.

“If I’m taking an order and it has an issue, now I got to take two at once,” Arcos said.

Carl’s Jr. employees advise customers to be patient with the new system and say it will continue to learn and improve as it’s used.


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