McDonald's is ditching AI after trial

The multinational fast-food chain is ending its drive-thru automated order-taking provided by IBM, which the giant had tested for 2 years.

As the partnership with IBM has ended, McDonald’s is planning to remove the automated ordering system from more than 100 restaurants that have been using it. The automated systems will reportedly be turned off by July 26th, 2024.

The fast food giant has decided to discontinue AI-led order-taking, as it said in an email sent to franchisees on Thursday and obtained by Restaurant Business outlet.

“While there have been successes to date, we feel there is an opportunity to explore voice ordering solutions more broadly,” Mason Smoot, chief restaurant officer for McDonald’s USA, said in the message.

Despite the current decision, McDonald's claims that the company does not dismiss the prospect of drive-thru AI and that IBM remains a “trusted partner.”

The fast-food restaurant chain has been testing automated order-taking systems since 2021, aiming to optimize the ordering process.

In March, McDonald’s suffered a worldwide outage that prevented restaurants from taking orders. The fast-food giant blamed a third-party provider for the outage.

In 2022, the fast-food chain operated and franchised approximately 45,000 restaurants worldwide, making it the world’s largest chain.