I THINK they want fries? McDonald’s is testing voice recognition software in Chicago for drive-thru orders – but employees have to help nearly a quarter of the time
- McDonald’s is testing voice recognition software at 10 locations in Chicago
- The technology is being used in the drive-thru to cut customer wait time
- The systems is 85% accurate, but human workers still jump in to help
- McDonald’s also said it plans to add robotic fryers in the next five years
Customers using the drive-thru at 10 McDonald’s locations in Chicago are not ordering burgers and fries with human employees, but machines using artificial intelligence.
The fast-food chain is testing voice recognition software at select locations that has shown to be 85 percent accurate – but 20 percent of orders need human intervention, CNBC reports.
CEO Chris Kempczinski made the announcement Wednesday, but also explained that the software may not roll out to all of the fast-food chain’s 14,000 locations.
‘Now there’s a big leap from going to 10 restaurants in Chicago to 14,000 restaurants across the U.S., with an infinite number of promo permutations, menu permutations, dialect permutations, weather — and on and on and on,’ Kempczinski said, per CNBC.
The technology, according to McDonald’s, aims to shorten the wait at the drive-thru by a yet to-be determined amount of time.
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Customers using the drive-thru at 10 McDonald’s locations in Chicago are not ordering burgers and fries with human employees, but artificial intelligent-powered machines
When a customer pulls up to the large menu board in the drive-thru, a digital voice immediately says: ‘Hey there. Welcome to McDonald’s. What would you like to order?’
Customers read off their orders and confirm them on a digital display.
McDonald’s has increasingly adopted technology over the years – former CEO Steve Easterbrook redesigned the brand in 2019 with tech savvy machines.
Easterbrook also acquired Apprente, which uses artificial intelligence software to take drive-thru orders, and now the technology is finally making its way into some fast-food locations.
CEO Chris Kempczinski (pictured) made the announcement Wednesday, but also explained that the software may not roll out to all of the fast-food chain’s 14,000 locations
‘We’ve never been more focused on improving the experience of the drive-through, in particular, the speed of service,’ McDonald’s said in a 2019 earnings report, following the acquisition announcement of Apprente.
Easterbrook also acquired Israeli digital startup Dynamic Yield, which offers AI menus that suggests items based on the time of day, weather or recent trends, like showing a hashbrown alongside a cheeseburger.
McDonald’s is also planning to automate the kitchen with robotic fryers and grills, Kempczinski told CNBC.
However, such technology may not launch for another five years.
Replacing human McDonald’s workers with robots has been a hot topic for years in the US, which started nearly five years ago, when workers at the company wanted the minimum wage increased to $15.
McDonald’s is one company that seems to change with the times – former CEO Steve Easterbrook redesigned the brand in 2019 with tech savvy machines
At the time, former McDonald’s USA CEO Ed Rensi said it would be cheaper to hire robots to replace the company’s staff than to pay the wage many were demanding in protests across the country.
‘It’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries,’ Rensi told Fox Business in May 2016.
‘If you can’t get people for a reasonable minimum wage, you’re going to get machines to do the work,’ he concluded, adding that such developments wouldn’t just be restricted to the fast-food industry.