NATIONAL NEWS

McDonald’s pulls AI ordering from drive-thrus — for now

Jun 18, 2024, 9:39 AM

Some fast food customers have complained that AI can get their orders wrong, a result of the techno...

Some fast food customers have complained that AI can get their orders wrong, a result of the technology’s inability to recognize some accents or to distinguish the customer’s voice from background noise. Mandatory Credit: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg/Getty Images via CNN Newsource

(CNN) — McDonald’s is pulling the plug on artificial intelligence ordering technology it was testing at more than 100 restaurant drive-thru systems in the US, a possible hiccup in the rapid rollout of AI in the fast food industry.

The company had worked with IBM to develop and test AI-driven, voice-automated ordering at some of its restaurants. The fast food giant says it’s still working on AI-related solutions at a time when its rivals are making similar investments.

It plans to shut off the technology in restaurants participating in the test “no later than July 26, 2024,” according to reporting from trade publication Restaurant Business.

“IBM remains a trusted partner and we will still utilize many of their products across our global System,” McDonald’s said in an email sent to franchisees and shared with CNN. But the company suggested it will look at AI partners other than IBM.

McDonald’s and IBM launched their partnership in 2021, announcing the development of Automated Order Taking (AOT) technology to create a more convenient and simplified ordering experience for its customers and restaurant teams as a part of its “Accelerating the Arches” growth plan.

IBM said the AOT technology that emerged from the partnership has “some of the most comprehensive capabilities in the industry, fast and accurate” in demanding conditions.

“While McDonald’s is revaluating and refining its plans for AOT, we look forward to continuing to work with them on a variety of other projects,” IBM said in a statement.

McDonald’s says this is not the end of its AI efforts. It plans to “evaluate long-term, scalable solutions” for voice-ordering by the end of 2024.

“AI is clearly going to be a part of restaurant automation and efficiencies going forward, but the technology is still in its infancy,” said David Henkes, senior principal and head of strategic partnerships at Technomic. “The McDonald’s experience and commitment to AI shows the potential upside, but it also shows the limitations of the technology at the present time.”

McDonald’s is not the only fast-food chain experimenting with AI. Other companies like White Castle tested out an automated drive-thru ordering system in 2021, and Wendy’s expanded its partnership with Google Cloud to roll out its own AI ordering tool in May last year.

Despite fast-food companies’ enthusiasm to integrate AI-powered solutions into their daily operations, the technology has still hit snags. Some customers have complained about AI getting their orders wrong — a result of the technology’s inability to recognize some accents and distinguish the customer’s voice from background noise.


The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

The 2002 Olympic cauldron is pictured at the Olympic and Paralympic Cauldron Plaza at the Universit...

Lisa Riley Roche

Inside the last-minute drama that brought changes to Utah’s Olympics bid

Concerns raised about U.S. response to doping allegations caused concern award might not happen on Pioneer Day.

3 hours ago

The aftermath of Biscuit Basin's hydrothermal explosion Tuesday morning. (United States Geological ...

Andrew Adams

Explosion sends tourists running at Yellowstone National Park’s Biscuit Basin

A seismologist at the University of Utah said hydrothermal explosions like the one caught on camera at Yellowstone's Biscuit Basin early Tuesday happen as often as twice a year at the park, but scientists are working to better predict them.

7 hours ago

emergency lights...

Carlysle Price

Soldier from Provo killed by suspected DUI driver

A U.S. soldier from Provo, UT was killed after he was hit by a woman driving under the influence of alcohol Monday night.

10 hours ago

Sen. Bob Menendez, pictured leaving Manhattan federal court on July 16, will resign his seat effect...

Laura Dolan, Lauren Fox and Clare Foran, CNN

Bob Menendez will resign his US Senate seat effective August 20

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey will resign his seat effective August 20, according to a copy of his resignation letter obtained by CNN.

16 hours ago

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers a nationally televised address from the Oval Office of the White ...

Aamer Madhani

Biden will address the nation Wednesday on his decision to drop his 2024 Democratic reelection bid

President Joe Biden will address the nation from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening on his decision to drop his 2024 Democratic reelection bid.

21 hours ago

FILE - A Delta Air Lines jet leaves the gate, Friday, July 19, 2024, at Logan International Airport...

Matt Ott, AP Business Writer

US opens investigation into Delta after global tech meltdown leads to massive cancellations

U.S. regulators open investigation into Delta, which is struggling to restore operations after tech meltdown leads to cancellations.

23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

McDonald’s pulls AI ordering from drive-thrus — for now