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McDonald’s tests AI to replace humans at the drive

McDonald’s has started testing drives that use artificial intelligence systems rather than humans to take orders, we were told. CNBC June 2. If this test proves successful, the use of AI could be deployed in all the restaurants of the chain within five years.

These new automated drives are in use in ten McDonald’s restaurants in Chicago. Restaurants that use the system see an 85% order accuracy rate, according to the fast-food chain, with only about one-fifth of orders requiring human intervention.

Using AI helps reduce customer wait times and allows restaurants to concentrate their in-store workforce because a computer is always on and available to take orders. It could also be linked to other automated systems that know a customer’s purchase history in order to automatically make recommendations.

McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski also told an investor meeting that the chain is also exploring ways to automate parts of the kitchen, like the grill or deep fryer. However, he said any such back-of-home initiative won’t be implemented for more than five years because the technology is too expensive right now.

These measures will probably lead to a decline in the company’s workforce in the long term, or even in the not-so-distant future to the disappearance of humans behind the stoves and counters.

CNBC

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