March 21, 2023

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Panera Bread tests AI in driveways

Panera Bread tests AI in driveways

Panera Bread location in Spring Hill, Florida.

Jeff Greenberg | global photo collection | Getty Images

Starting Monday, customers who go car-to-car at two Panera Bread locations in upstate New York will have their orders delivered by a computer in a test of the AI ‚Äč‚Äčtechnology’s accuracy and ability to reduce service times.

The sandwich chain is the latest restaurant company to invest in potential improvements to the drive-thru experience. a An increase in demand through cars during the Covid pandemic It resulted in long lines of cars wrapping around restaurants, prompting chains to focus on speed of service and accuracy of ordering.

for example, McDonald’s It is also automating its drive lane, having announced a partnership last year with IBM to work towards this goal. yum brands Taco Bell and International brands restaurant Burger King is building double lanes for cars in some locations to allow customers to receive their digital orders more quickly. Casual chains like Shake Shack And the sweet green Which was once rejected in the driving lanes that were added.

Panera Bread uses OpenCity’s proprietary voice dialing technology, called Tori. The startup has raised $6.82 million from private investors, giving the company a valuation of $26.82 million, according to BeachBook. So far, its technology is used by more than two dozen restaurants, including at least one Popeyes location in Louisiana, the OpenCity website said.

The financial terms of Banera’s agreement with OpenCity were not disclosed.

At Panera, customers will interact with Tori when they pull into the megaphone through the drive. Panera staff will be on standby to assist and receive payment for orders.

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Debbie Roberts, Panera’s chief operating officer, said in a statement that the test will be used to assess whether Torrey should be expanded to more Panera restaurants. About 45% of Panera’s 2,000+ sites have car lanes.

Panera has already begun overhauling the use of automation to improve the customer experience. Earlier this year, he Announcing the testing of Miso Robotics’ CookRight coffee systemwhich uses artificial intelligence to monitor coffee volume and temperature.

Panera has been privately owned since 2017, when JAB Holding bought the company for $7.5 billion. The chain continued to invest in technology, boosted its digital sales, and maintained its reputation as a leader in the restaurant industry. Earlier this summer, citing market conditions, Canceled a planned deal with the investment group of restaurateur Danny Meyer It would help to bring it up to the public again.