McDonald’s ends AI drive-thru trial after order mishaps | Science & Tech News

McDonald’s is ending its AI drive-thru trial after customers reported errors in their orders – including bacon being added to ice cream.

The fast food chain’s AI ordering system, developed by IBM, uses voice recognition to process orders and has been rolled out at more than 100 McDonald’s locations in the US since 2021.

However, the technology’s reliability has been called into question in recent months, with members of the public sharing videos of order mix-ups on social media.

As well as topping a dessert with bacon, the AI drive-thru assistant added $211 (£166) worth of chicken nuggets to another customer’s order.

In another TikTok video – posted with the caption “Fighting with McDonald’s robot” – a woman is seen struggling to order vanilla ice cream and a bottle of water, and instead ends up with multiple sundaes, ketchup sachets, and two portions of butter.

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McDonald’s has now instructed franchisees to remove the technology by the end of July as it has decided against extending the contract, in a move first reported by the trade publication Restaurant Business.

The fast food giant said in a statement: “While there have been successes to date, we feel there is an opportunity to explore voice ordering solutions more broadly.

“After a thoughtful review, McDonald’s has decided to end our current partnership with IBM on AOT (automated order taking) and the technology will be shut off in all restaurants currently testing it no later than 26 July, 2024.”

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McDonald’s also said it was confident the technology would still be a part of the company’s future.

The decision comes amid concerns over the potential impact AI could have on jobs and the workplace.