McDonald to Implement AI Voice Agents at Drive-Thrus

The burger giant isn’t the first name one thinks of when considering implementing new AI technology. However, the company’s recent tech acquisitions have opened up avenues for the business to explore integrating technology into their processes. Previously, McDonald’s rolled out a series of “personalized” menus. The company’s next significant technological advancement is to set up AI technology to automate drive-thrus using promotions from a newly acquired company.

McDonald’s acquired Apprente, which deals with the creation of conversational voice technology for use in their drive-thru system. The company states that they intended to use tech that Apprente had been developing that allows a computerized system to converse with a human being in multiple accents and languages, allowing it to take accurate orders from potential customers. The advancement seems to mark a shift away from recruiting human workers for taking orders.

In-House Tech Lab Being Formed

McDonald’s has stated that they intend to incorporate Apprente into their business through the formation of a new section named McD Tech Labs. The company expects to expand the personnel within the lab by hiring data scientists, engineers, and other technical support staff moving forward. McD Tech Labs will aim to utilize the Apprente tech in mobile ordering as well as kiosks.

The Apprente acquisition comes on the heels of McDonald’s purchasing Dynamic Yield, an AI platform development company, earlier this year. The intent was to use technology that Dynamic Yield had developed to create more personalized menu choices for restaurant-goers related to trending data, the time of the day, or even the weather. Additionally, the system knows the labor intensiveness of items, allowing it to customize the offerings based on the amount of effort needed to make the items. As the company continues to expand their technology, it’s very likely that their hiring system will change, moving away from customer-service oriented workers and more towards employees that display more technical skills for the job.