McMishaps: McDonald's eliminates AI drive-ins after numerous viral mix-ups – National

McDonald's will remove its artificial intelligence (AI) drive-thru technology from over 100 restaurants across the U.S. after the systems repeatedly annoyed diners with incorrect orders and incorrect instructions.

The AI, called “Automated Order Taker,” was implemented in 2021 in collaboration with IBM.

In a memo sent to franchisees this month, the fast-food giant announced plans to end the test run without further expansion for the time being, industry publication Restaurant Business reported.

AI will be turned off in all restaurants by July 26 at the latest. (No AI drive-ins have been tested in Canada.)

Many customers who tried to order from McDonald's AI-powered drive-thru documented their difficulties and shared their experiences on social media. In the videos, hungry customers often expressed frustration with the AI ​​for adding unnecessary items to simple orders, such as ketchup and butter packets that were supposed to contain only ice cream.

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Another social media user found the AI's mistake far more amusing, laughing out loud when the drive-thru technology added hundreds of dollars worth of chicken nuggets to her order.

A customer filmed the drive-thru screen as a McDonald's employee had to outrun the AI ​​system and fulfill an order that the software did not understand.


Trying out McDonald's AI drive-thru…again @McDonald's Corporate #fail

♬ Original sound – Dal JustDal

CNBC reported that the AI ​​drive-thru technician reportedly had trouble understanding different accents and dialects and had a hard time distinguishing orders from background noise or nearby conversations.

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McDonald's and IBM have not commented on the overall accuracy of the discontinued AI, but in 2021, McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski said the technology reported an accuracy rate of about 85 percent in recognizing orders. In its memo to franchisees, McDonald's did not rule out future use of AI-powered drive-thru technology – despite repeated public claims that implementation could cost jobs.

In defense of its use of the automated order taker, McDonald's told Restaurant Business that the test run of the AI ​​was conducted to determine whether it could speed up service and simplify processes.

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“Our collaboration with IBM has given us confidence that a voice ordering solution for drive-thru restaurants will be part of the future of our restaurants,” McDonald's said in a statement. “We see tremendous opportunity in the continued development of our restaurant technology and will continue to evaluate long-term, scalable solutions that will help us make an informed decision on a future voice ordering solution by the end of the year.”

McDonald's announced that it would seek a partner outside of IBM to develop and implement a new automated ordering system in the future.

At least for the time being, there will still be people frying burgers and taking chicken nugget orders under the golden arches.

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