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McDonald’s is testing AI ordering software in ten Chicago drive-thrus

The voice ordering tech is 85% accurate

mcdonald's restaurant
Image: Unsplash

Your drive-thru ordering experience is about to get smarter, with McDonald’s trialing AI-powered ordering software at ten Chicago-based locations. The ordering boards are powered by software acquired by McDonald’s when they purchased Apprente, back in 2019.

Speaking at Alliance Bernstein’s Strategic Decisions Conference, CEO Chris Kempczinski said that the voice-ordering tech has about an 85% accuracy rate, with only a fifth of orders needing some human intervention in the ordering process.

McDonald’s is also looking into automating parts of the kitchen, with fryers and grills on the roadmap. Those won’t be appearing in stores for another five years or so, according to Kempczinski.

If you’re hoping that your local McD’s is going to have AI-powered ordering soon, you’ll have to wait. It’s going to be anywhere up to two years before the tech is ready to roll-out, with “an infinite number of promo permutations, menu permutations, dialect permutations, weather — and on and on and on,” to deal with before it’s ready.

The other interesting tidbit that was dropped by the CEO? That the new AI ordering system required them to re-train staff members to essentially not do their job, as they were interrupting the AI to help out.

McDonald’s also bought Israeli-based company Dynamic Yield to make AI-powered drive-thru menu boards that can change the offerings based on your personal ordering history, the weather, and trending menu offerings. It seems the fast-food joint of the future won’t have any staff at all, even if everything will be a Taco Bell.

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