I wrote before about Grace the robot and the AAAI robot challenge. I have an idea for a new AI challenge: an automated fast-food drive-thru order taking system using voice recognition and natural language processing. This has got to be possible either with current technology or soon. Not only that, but an automated system should be able to outperform the vegetables that typically take drive-through orders. Think about it, the vocabulary is limited, especially with numbered options for combo meals, yet the people at the window are usually incapable of handling the slightest deviation from the
standard script. My typical drive-through interaction usually goes something like this:
voice: Hi, would you like to try one of our new garden salads?
me: No, thanks. I’d like a single combo with cheese, ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion only; biggie-size, with a coke.
different voice: Hi, can I take your order?
me: Uh, yeah. I’d like a single combo with cheese, ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion only; biggie-size, with a coke.
voice: okay, a single with cheese and what?
me: Ketchup, mustard, pickles, and onions only.
voice: Would you like the combo?
voice: Would you like to biggie-size it?
voice: What would you like to drink?
me: coke please.
voice: That’ll be 4.69, please drive around.
me: thank you.
So basically what’s happened is that human acts solely as a voice-recognition system for regimented, prompt-and-menu-driven interaction system. Errors are handled by backing up and repeating part of the script. AI has got to be able to do better than that!