IBM updates ordering systems at McDonald’s drive- thru

IBM updates ordering systems at McDonald’s drive- thru

1. June 2022 0 By Horst Buchwald

IBM updates ordering systems at McDonald’s drive- thru

New York, 6/1/2022

IBM plans to introduce updated natural language processing (NLP) technology to improve automated ordering systems at McDonald’s drive-thrus.

The announcement comes after IBM acquired McDonald’s McD Tech Labs, the drive-thrus automation technology lab, as part of a strategic AI partnership with the fast-food company.

McD Tech Labs had previously developed an AI-powered voice system for taking orders at drive-thrus. After acquiring the technology, IBM is now augmenting that AI system with new NLP technology that will eventually be rolled out to all McDonald’s stores, according to IBM’s Rob Thomas.

The AI and software will benefit franchisees at a time of “wage inflation” and demand for fast food, Thomas said. He noted that the automated ordering technology or chatbot can handle most orders, but “every once in a while, something gets pushed to the human” employee.

McD Tech Labs was formerly the conversational technology company Apprente before it was acquired by McDonald’s in 2019.

The framework agreement with McDonald’s commits IBM to expand the automated technology to all McDonald’s stores and add new menus, languages and dialects.

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