McDonald’s Acquires AI Tech Company to Help Automate Drive-Thrus

McDonald’s made several acquisitions this year to improve the customer experience at their brick and mortar stores. To start with, the fast-food giant acquired Dynamic Yield and implemented its personalization and decision technology in over 8,000 of its menu boards. This past month, McDonald’s announced a second deal with a voice recognition leader, Apprente, to improve drive-thru voice ordering systems. Considering the size and success of McDonald’s, the company’s willingness to pursue new technology shows there is always room for system improvements.

Although McDonald’s approach to upgrading their restaurants doesn’t come at a low price, the investment can improve both workflow and customer satisfaction. The Dynamic Yield acquisition is valued at over $300 million, and an additional billion dollars is expected to be spent on other upgrades and renovations. The addition of self-service kiosks, digital menu boards, a new mobile app, and the upgraded voice ordering systems is just the beginning of their Velocity Growth Plan according to McDonald’s CEO, Steve Eastbrook.

Looking at Apprente, the Silicon Valley-based startup provides McDonald’s with a way to automate their drive-thrus and eventually their kiosks. The voice recognition software was specifically created to speed up food ordering lines and can understand different accents and languages using neuroscience-based AI technology. Since drive-thru orders make up 70% of McDonald’s sales, moving cars through lines faster will benefit the majority of their customer base. The Apprente system has already been tested in some Chicago locations with employees overseeing the accuracy of voice generated orders. For now, workers fix any errors, but McDonald’s hopes one day to leave the whole ordering process to the machines.

Fast-food fanatics should only expect more changes to their dining experience going forward. It seems McDonald’s and other restaurant chains hope to drive sales through an increased reliance on technology and AI. The success of these efforts is sure to be tested as their newest acquisitions are implemented.

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