For a number of years, quick-serve restaurants have been piloting different combinations of technology to try to address drive-thru bottlenecks. Now a new solution is bringing voice ordering right to the car’s interior.

BurgerFi recently became the first food establishment to launch in-car ordering on vehicles that are equipped with 5G. The solution, from Mavi.io, hopes to streamline a driver’s ability to connect with grocers, pharmacies, restaurants, nail salons and other businesses to facilitate ordering, payment and curbside pickup.

Eat This, Not That! wrote, “The purchasing process is conducted hands-free via voice and data displayed on the vehicle’s dashboard screen. The driver simply engages the MAVI.io system, verbally states what they want to buy, and is then met with a list of suitable recommendations. The user next places a specific order, again via voice, and the system coordinates placing the order and GPS guidance, leading the driver to the pickup destination, complete with their own real-time ETA and the status of the order.

Other major fast food chains have tried to speed drivers through lines by giving the drive-thru itself a high-tech upgrade. McDonald’s has tested AI-based voice assistant ordering as well as touchscreen ordering at the drive-thru. White Castle has explored license plate recognition-based ordering.

This is not the foodservice world’s first partnership with the automotive industry meant to get customers ordering from their cars.

In 2017 General Motors rolled out an on-dash touchscreen solution called Marketplace to allow people to place food orders from Starbucks, Wingstop and other places directly from their dashboards. Ordering from dashboards was touted as safer than from smartphones, but safety advocates still found shopping activities may divert drivers’ eyes off the road.

Remote ordering via mobile device has proved to be very popular for some QSRs. However, Starbucks experienced mobile ordering bottlenecks even before the pandemic, going as far as to open mobile-pickup-only kiosks to reduce wait times. More recently, a Business Insider article from June 2021 characterized Starbucks’s baristas as being swamped with mobile orders due to an escalated rate of mobile app ordering because of the pandemic.



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