Smart cameras strategically placed in the drive-thru and kitchen enable computer vision systems to provide operators with real-time insights to improve their drive-thru operations and increase their speed of service, creating a superior customer experience.

There’s nothing more fulfilling than a smooth drive-thru experience while getting your morning coffee or a quick dinner for a car full of hungry kids after soccer practice. You’re not standing in a long line watching another customer have a meltdown because their order is wrong, instead you’re sitting in an air-conditioned car listening to your favorite song cruising along in the drive-thru. Pioneers of the drive-thru were absolute geniuses.

To keep customers happy and coming back to your drive-thru, restaurant operators are exploring technology that can improve their customers’ drive-thru experience, from digital menu boards to A.I. voice assistants for order taking. A.I. powered technology can provide key metrics to ensure your drive-thru is optimized for a superior customer experience and in return, for revenue growth. Speed is key to keeping the line moving—and customers coming back.

What’s next for the drive-thru?

Visually surveying the lines at a drive-thru can provide restaurant operators with meaningful data such as the number of waiting cars or the number of line drop-outs. But how can restaurants efficiently and effectively get real-time data to make good use of it? Some quick-service restaurants (QSRs) have several team members in the drive-thru to help take orders, these line-busters provide valuable information to the staff, letting them know approximately how many cars are in the drive-thru lane and approximate wait times. This provides the kitchen team with some additional information to help them plan and prepare food accordingly. However, not every drive-thru has the luxury and manpower to place line-busters in the drive-thru to be their eyes and ears. This is how computer vision can help revolutionize the drive-thru. Think of computer vision as the automation of human sight.

Here are some key applications that computer vision can help QSR operators optimize everyday operations.

  • Smart Drive-thru: Measures real-time, true speed of service to identify problems.
  • Order Accuracy: Quickly detects order errors during preparation & assembly.
  • Makeline Monitoring: Monitors food container levels & notifies the need to replenish.

Here are some key benefits that computer vision brings.

  • Increase Throughput: Reduce guest wait times and significantly increase throughput by removing bottlenecks from your lines.
  • Reduce Abandonment: Quickly identify and address drop-outs in your drive-thru lines.
  • Improve Revenue: Identify specific opportunities to upsell using personalization.

How does computer vision work in the drive-thru?

Computer vision technologies help restaurants improve the speed of service and the efficiency of their operations. Smart web cameras strategically positioned throughout the drive-thru and kitchen provide restaurants with information that helps them improve efficiency, ensure correctly-prepared orders, and prepare food in a timely manner. By using real-time data in conjunction with A.I. algorithms mapping out historical data and patterns, drive-thru operators can do a better job at predicting demand and hence helping optimize their drive-thru operations.

An opportunity exists to dramatically improve the throughput of the drive-thru by using visual data and machine learning throughout the drive-thru lane and kitchen. Knowing that there are 20 cars in the drive-thru or just a few in conjunction with historical data dramatically changes how the kitchen operates optimally and helps operators plan for staffing and inventory better.

For instance, image-based analytics can determine the number of cars in the drive-thru lane and coupled with smart AI data analytics, can intelligently predict how many cars will order fries and how many patties to put on the grill; therefore, triggering the kitchen to start food preparation. This helps increase the speed of order processing and reduce customer wait times. AI systems can make these determinations far more efficiently, reliably and scalably than people.

Inventory management is another important computer vision application in the restaurant industry. Monitoring shelf life for perishable items and ensuring that popular items remain stocked is a convoluted, dynamic challenge for operators. The restaurant industry loses billions of dollars in food waste each year without a smart inventory management system in place. By installing smart web cameras in the kitchen and storage areas, we can apply computer vision solutions to automate inventory management and help reduce food waste and cost, saving drive-thru operators time and money.

Achieve smarter, leaner operations with tech.

With Presto Vision, our enterprise-grade A.I.-powered computer vision solution provides drive-thrus with information that helps them improve efficiency, personalize guest experiences, ensure correctly-packaged orders, and allocate resources appropriately by accurately predicting demand. Based on imagery collected via smart web cameras in the drive-thru and kitchen, our computer vision solution can empower restaurant operators with real-time insights to optimize and improve their drive-thru operations, increase their speed of service, and reduce food waste.

Perhaps now more important than ever, as restaurants face labor shortages and high inflation, next-gen computer vision technology is the solution restaurants need to solve their growing portfolio of operational issues. Working with the right technology partner, restaurants can ensure order accuracy and identify mistakes in real-time. They can make line busters more efficient by enabling them with helpful tools that reduce unnecessary busywork and provide real-time recommendations. Most of all, they can offer an experience that compels happy guests to keep coming back for more.

Presto has a winning combination for drive-thru operators offering both A.I. voice assistant and computer vision technologies. When Presto Voice and Presto Vision are combined together, it streamlines the overall operations and guest experience while increasing the guest-to-staff ratio in the drive-thru. We believe in the next few years, the majority of drive-thrus will leverage this type of technology to optimize operations, improve order accuracy, personalize guest experiences and provide rich drive-thru analytics.

About Presto

Presto overlays next-gen digital solutions onto the physical world. Our enterprise-grade touch, vision, and voice technologies help hospitality businesses thrive while delighting guests. With over 100 million guests using Presto each month and 300,000 systems shipped, we are one of the largest technology providers in the industry.

Founded at M.I.T. in 2008, Presto is headquartered in Silicon Valley, Calif. with customers including top 20 hospitality chains such as Applebee’s, Aramark, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Denny’s, and Outback Steakhouse.