Panera is testing a new voice ordering technology

A fast fast casual chain is about to get even faster. Less than a year after unveiling its “next generation” restaurant prototype, Panera is rolling out another innovation.

The bakery and cafe chain announced that it is currently testing OpenCity’s AI-powered voice ordering technology, called Tori, at two drive-thru locations in the greater Rochester, New York area, one in Greece and one in Webster.

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To place an order, customers can simply walk up to the drive-through speakerphone and speak to Tori. Panera employees will be available to assist as needed and to accept payment for orders.

According to the company, the implementation of the new ordering technology is aimed at reducing wait times, streamlining order accuracy and helping employees focus on food preparation.

“The potential of AI self-service technology is incredibly exciting for us – we look forward to evaluating the performance of these tests and the possibility of expanding this technology to additional bakery-cafés,” Debbie Roberts, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Panera Bread. she said in a statement.

Tori’s deployment is one of several technological advancements Panera has made in recent months. In June, the bakery chain opened its first digital-only takeout location, Panera To-Go, on Chicago’s North Side. The store does not have a dining room, and three other locations are planned in Washington DC and California.

In April, Panera revealed that two of its restaurants will trial Miso Robotics’ CookRight coffee technology, which uses artificial intelligence to monitor coffee volume, temperature, brew time and customer demand.

Panera isn’t the only fast-food chain harnessing the power of voice ordering. In June 2021, McDonald’s began testing voice recognition systems at 24 locations in the Chicago area. While McDonald’s has not disclosed whether this technology will roll out nationally, restaurant industry analyst Peter Saleh said QSR Magazine that he expects voice ordering systems to “continue to evolve and perhaps be ready for wider adoption later in the year.”

brianna ruback

Brianna is an editorial assistant on Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna

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