McDonald’s New Drive-Thru Using AI Technology to Take Orders

by Emily Morgan
(Photo by Marty MELVILLE/Getty)

McDonald’s, a big player in the fast-food industry, is making some monumental changes with its drive-thrus.

After the COVID-19 pandemic presented new challenges to the restaurant industry, the fast-food business had to get creative. Fast food restaurants optimized their take-out procedures for those who didn’t— or couldn’t— come inside due to state laws put in place to combat the pandemic.

However, in Chicago, one McDonalds location is changing the future of fast food by its use of automated intelligence. “Welcome to McDonald’s. What can I get for you?” the Jetsons-like AI asks its Chicago patrons in asks in a polite yet somewhat creepy manner.

The corporation has included this new method of order-taking as a way to increase its service. According to CNN, in 2019, your average wait time at a golden arches clocked in at under seven minutes. In 2020, the company cut that time down to five minutes and 49 seconds.

Chicago Customers Get Robotic Surprise During Their McDonald’s Run

As drive-thrus are topping the list when it comes to fast-food sales, the competition is speeding up to get their wait times as short as possible. Enter the AI drive-thru. The female-sounding voice is connected to a digital menu. It can also suggest food to customers if you can’t decide what you want to eat.

While it may be somewhat eerie to no longer be greeted by a human voice, it might be something patrons will have to grow accustomed to if they want their Big Macs and fries. Mcdonald’s isn’t the only company preparing to roll out smart menu boards. Customers should prepare themselves to see other fast-food chains use Siri-style assistants, automated ordering, and facial recognition to process payments. As Americans saw a fast-food boom in the 1950s, it comes as little surprise that the 2020s could bring a technological renaissance for the way we order.