New McDonald’s drive-thru is using AI technology to take orders, make suggestions

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of changes to restaurants. Since many casual restaurants had to close their doors and switch to take-out only, people were ordering fast food even more than usual. And because the “grab-and-go” factor is already a perk of fast-food restaurants, it was basically a no-brainer for those who hoped grab a meal and maintain social distancing.

Now, McDonald’s, one of the pioneers of modern fast food, has decided to step it up when it comes to efficiency and consistent service. Somewhere in a Chicago suburb, an AI is currently taking drive-thru orders.

Somewhere in a Chicago suburb, an AI is currently taking drive-thru orders rather than a human employee.

This could be the McFuture

The McDonald’s app was supposed to help with convenience and shorter wait times, but it wasn’t enough for the Golden Arches. There are over 14,000 McDonald’s locations in the U.S. alone, and 95% of those restaurants include a drive-thru lane, which means a lot of us are expecting to be able to drive-up and get our McNuggets, STAT.

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The AI drive-thru may be able to help. The voice itself is described as female, similar to Alexa or Siri. It’s connected to a digital menu, and can even suggest food if you’re unsure about what to order.

It can be a bit unsettling to hear a robotic voice greet you instead of the voice of a human employee, but it might be something to get used to if McDonald’s rolls this out to all locations. Just another bit of tech to add to the modern age.

Will this hel with drive-thru times?

The idea is that the AI will take care of the orders and allow human employees to focus on accuracy and quality of the food items. Fast-food places are always looking to speed up their service to contend with their competitors, and McDonald’s is hoping an AI drive-thru will help with this, even if it’s just a minute or two of difference. It can also be a great outlet for those who suffer social anxiety and find it difficult to speak with human employees.