Tim Hortons testing new automated drive-thru in Tecumseh

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Tim Hortons is testing out a new kind of drive-thru at a location in Tecumseh.

The coffee chain has launched a pilot project involving an automated, conveyor belt system at the Tim Hortons at 5250 Walker Rd. at North Talbot Rd.

The automated drive-thru pickup point eliminates any face-to-face communication with staff, but the new technology creates a second lane along side the traditional drive-thru, allowing two customers to order at the same time 

According to the company, a conveyer belt moves a guest’s order above the first drive-thru lane and after paying, the customer will receive their order through an automated receiving box with electric doors while still in the drive-thru.

Zahra Lakhani, Senor Director of Format Innovation for Tim Hortons, says  inside the restaurant, there's a loading area where the team member actually loads orders onto a tray that goes up and over the existing drive-thru lane.

"It comes out through this automated window that adjusts to the guests vehicle height, where they can then collect their order and be on their way," she says.

Lakhani says this is not about automation but decreasing the amount of time people spend waiting in line at the drive-thru.

"In fact, we've actually had to hire additional staff to be able to monitor and run the system. So what it really does is refocuses our team members to focus on order preparation," she says.

Tim Hortons began installing and experimenting with the new drive-thru in January, but it is now fully operational at the location on Walker Road.

The system is the first for Tim Hortons in Canada.

The new automated drive-thru pilot project at Tim Horton's at 5250 Walker Rd. at North Talbot Rd. in Tecumseh. (Photo courtesy of Tim Horton's)