McDonald’s scrapped this huge change to how customers ordered at the drive-thru

Jun 20, 2024

The drive-thru is McDonald’s key driver of business and profits.

Picking up food to go was one of the franchise’s great innovations.

And McDonald’s scrapped this huge change to how customers ordered at the drive-thru.

McDonald’s junks artificial intelligence (AI) ordering system 

California recently passed legislation mandating $20 per hour minimum wage for fast food workers.

Joe Biden’s inflation led to rising menu prices and fears customers won’t show up in the usual numbers.

A giant corporation like McDonald’s has a responsibility to shareholders to turn a profit.

And to keep costs down and profit margins up, McDonald’s had been experimenting with a voice-generated AI ordering system since 2021 at 100 locations.

McDonald’s developed the voice ordering AI system in conjunction with IBM.

But McDonald’s recently announced an end to the experiment.

“While there have been successes to date, we feel there is an opportunity to explore voice ordering solutions more broadly,” an email to franchisees from McDonald’s USA Chief Restaurant Officer Mason Smoot read.

 “After a thoughtful review, McDonald’s has decided to end our current partnership with IBM on AOT and the technology will be shut off in all restaurants currently testing it no later than July 26, 2024,” the email added.

McDonald’s still believes AI is in its future.

“As we move forward, our work with IBM has given us the confidence that a voice-ordering solution for drive-thru will be part of our restaurants’ future,” a statement from McDonald’s added.

 “We see tremendous opportunity in advancing our restaurant technology and will continue to evaluate long-term, scalable solutions that will help us make an informed decision on a future voice ordering solution by the end of the year,” the statement continued.

IBM looks for new partners on AI ordering

While IBM lost its business partnership with McDonald’s, other fast-food chains could step into the breach.

“IBM developed automated order taker technologies with McDonald’s to support the emerging use of voice-activated AI in restaurant drive-thrus,” a statement from IBM read. 

“This technology is proven to have some of the most comprehensive capabilities in the industry, fast and accurate in some of the most demanding conditions,” the statement added.

“While McDonald’s is reevaluating and refining its plans for AOT, we look forward to continuing to work with them on a variety of other projects,” the statement continued.

Checkers and Rally’s, Hardees, Carl’s Jr., Krystal, Wendy’s, Dunkin, and Taco John’s are all chains that are testing out AI ordering systems.

AI is quickly becoming a regular part of American life.

Google uses AI to provide results on web searches.

ChatGPT is changing the way people write, as now a prompt can produce news stories and scripts for TV and movies.

Every industry will experiment with AI to see where it can create efficiencies and save money.

The fast-food sector is no different.

And as long as Democrats keep imposing policies that increase the cost of doing business, the supposed party of the “little guy” will create incentives for companies like McDonald’s to eliminate the jobs of workers paid by the hour and replace them with automation.

*24/7 Politics Official Polling*

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