McDonald's Puts Halt to New Drive-Thru Ordering Program

McDonald's is ending its AI drive-thru order taking program, reports say.

A message from McDonald’s USA Chief Restaurant Officer, Mason Smoot, stated, "after a thoughtful review, McDonald's has decided to end our current partnership with IBM on AOT [automated order taking]. The technology will be shut off in all restaurants currently testing it no later than July 26, 2024."

More than 100 McDonald’s locations have been testing this technology since 2021.

"While there have been successes to date, we feel there is an opportunity to explore voice ordering solutions more broadly," Smoot added. He noted the company will make "an informed decision on a future voice ordering solution by the end of the year."

The AI order-taking program aimed to simplify operations and speed up service, according to McDonald’s.

"As we move forward, our work with IBM has given us confidence that a voice-ordering solution for drive-thru will be part of our restaurants’ future," a McDonald’s spokesperson told the magazine.

IBM said it "developed automated order taker technologies with McDonald’s to support the emerging use of voice-activated AI in restaurant drive-thrus."

"This technology is proven to have some of the most comprehensive capabilities in the industry," IBM stated. "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."

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