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McDonald’s ending AI drive-thru ordering

McDonald’s has reportedly notified franchisees that it is ending its artificial intelligence drive-thru order-taking program.

“After careful consideration, McDonald’s has decided to terminate its current partnership with IBM regarding AOT,” Mason Smoot, McDonald’s U.S. chief restaurant officer, said in a message obtained by Restaurant Business magazine. [automated order taking] Additionally, all restaurants currently testing this technology will have the technology shut down by July 26, 2024.”

More than 100 McDonald’s restaurants have been testing the technology since 2021, according to the magazine.

“While we have seen some success to date, we feel there is an opportunity to explore voice ordering solutions more broadly,” Smoot added, stating that the company will “make an informed decision about our future voice ordering solution by the end of the year.”

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A McDonald’s drive-thru in Sanford, Florida, after the company reportedly announced it was shutting down its AI drive-thru ordering program. (Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images/Getty Images)

McDonald’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment from FOX Business on Monday.

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MCCD McDonald’s Co., Ltd. 253.58 -0.12 -0.05%
IBM International Business Machines Co., Ltd. 169.21 +0.09 +0.05%

However, the fast-food giant reportedly told Restaurant Business that the purpose of the AI ​​order-taking program is to see if it can streamline operations and speed up service to customers.

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McDonald's drive-thru in California

A drive-thru menu at a McDonald’s in California. McDonald’s partnered with IBM for an AI program. (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images/Getty Images)

“Looking forward, our collaboration with IBM gives us confidence that drive-thru voice ordering solutions will be part of the future of our restaurants,” a McDonald’s spokesperson told the publication.

IBM told Restaurant Business that it “worked with McDonald’s to develop automated order-taking technology to support emerging uses of voice-activated AI in restaurant drive-thrus.”

Exterior of McDonald's in California

According to Restaurant Business magazine, McDonald’s says it envisions AI being part of its future. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images/Getty Images)

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“The technology has proven to have some of the most comprehensive capabilities in the industry, and it is fast and accurate in even the most demanding conditions,” the company said in a statement. “While McDonald’s reevaluates and refines its plans for AOT, we look forward to continuing to work with the company on a variety of other projects.”