McDonald’s retires AI in drive-thrus – Deseret News

McDonald’s retires AI in drive-thrus – Deseret News

McDonald’s retires AI in drive-thrus – Deseret News

McDonald’s is putting the brakes on the artificial intelligence technology embedded in more than 100 drive-thru locations after encountering operational challenges, according to Business Insider.

Initially introduced in 2021, the AI-based ordering system, developed in partnership with IBM, aimed to enhance efficiency and customer experience. However, McDonald’s decided to discontinue the technology following widespread reports of the AI ​​struggling with complex orders.

In a statement to Business Insider, McDonald’s said the technology is meant to “determine whether an automated voice command solution could simplify operations for the crew and create a faster and improved experience for our fans.”

Despite this goal, viral videos depict AI misinterpreting orders, requiring human intervention to fix. This has prompted the fast food giant to reassess its strategy when it comes to AI.

In email correspondence with franchisees obtained by Restaurant Business magazine, McDonald’s announced plans to disable AI technology at all test locations by July 26.

“After careful consideration, McDonald’s has decided to end our current partnership with IBM on AOT,” said Mason Smoot, director of restaurants for McDonald’s USA.

Why is McDonald’s eliminating AI drive-thrus?

The decision to remove AI from drive-thrus stems from recurring incidents where AI has weakened in understanding customer requests.

A TikTok user shared his experience making a simple request at an AI-operated drive-thru kiosk. The AI ​​system could not understand the command, prompting the user to cancel and restart.

Even after restarting, the AI ​​still couldn’t figure out the command, and eventually an operator took over, quickly fixing the problem.

This trend seems to be common with AI drive-thrus. Many other social media users took to their accounts to share their experiences with the AI ​​messing up their commands. While the AI ​​seems to handle simple, straightforward requests well, it seems to struggle with tasks that require any complexity.

When AI was first implemented in 2021, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said the AI ​​was accurate about 85 percent of the time, according to CNBC.

While that number is impressive, the 15% of customers who don’t have an optimal experience seems to have been enough for McDonald’s to shut down the initiative, at least until the technology advances further, which may not be far off, given given the current trajectory of AI technology. .

Will McDonald’s have AI drive-thrus in the future?

Despite discontinuing its current drive-thru AI efforts, McDonald’s remains optimistic about its potential. The company emphasized that artificial intelligence will play a role in future drive-thru experiences and could reappear as soon as the end of the year.

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

“We see tremendous opportunity in the development of our restaurant technology and will continue to evaluate long-term scalable solutions that will help us make an informed decision about a future voice ordering solution by the end of the year,” McDonald’s added.