McDonald’s acquires AI firm to replace human workers

Another sector has been added to automation’s hit-list. This time it’s fast food, as McDonald’s adds Apprente to its McD Tech Labs roster.

McDonald’s has announced plans to replace human workers with artificial intelligence-driven voice technology in it’s US drive-thru stores. 

The fast-food giant announced Tuesday that it had acquired Apprente, a company pioneering speech recognition AI, which creates “voice-based platforms for complex, multilingual, multi-accent and multi-item conversational ordering.”

This is their third major acquisition of a technology company this year. 

In a move aimed at streamlining their service to make ordering more efficient – if it wasn’t enough already – McDonald’s are developing these new technologies to stay current in a shifting landscape of increasingly AI-enabled smart services.

Itamar Aral, co-founder of Apprente and Vice President of McD Tech Labs, said: “McDonald’s commitment to innovation has long inspired our team. It was quite clear from our various engagements that McDonald’s is leading the industry with technology.”

In April, the fast food chain acquired Dynamic Yield, in what is believed to be a deal worth north of $300 million. Dynamic Yield has developed a technology which offers a higher level of personalisation and decision logic, using data and artificial intelligence. 

The company said that Dynamic Yield’s tech could be used to personalise drive-thru menus to suit each individual by offering additional products based on their choices, as well as factoring in the weather and adjusting the menu to suit the time of day, trending items and even traffic.

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said: “Technology is a critical element of our Velocity Growth Plan, enhancing the experience for our customers by providing greater convenience on their terms.”

With the addition of Apprente to McDonald’s strengthening tech group, they look set to roll-out huge changes across their US stores in the coming years, with their sights fixed firmly on AI and automation.

Luke Conrad

Technology & Marketing Enthusiast

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