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McDonald’s Pulls the Plug on AI-Powered Ordering, For Now McDonald’s Pulls the Plug on AI-Powered Ordering, For Now
According to the BBC, McDonald’s is set to remove its AI-powered ordering technology from drive-through restaurants in the United States following... McDonald’s Pulls the Plug on AI-Powered Ordering, For Now

According to the BBC, McDonald’s is set to remove its AI-powered ordering technology from drive-through restaurants in the United States following a wave of online scrutiny over mistakes related to orders. The technology, developed in collaboration with IBM, was introduced in 2019 to streamline order processing through voice recognition software.

It seems that the AI system has been unable to deliver reliable results. This has led to a series of viral videos showcasing bizarrely misinterpreted orders that have made waves online. These range from bacon-topped ice cream to orders for hundreds of dollars worth of chicken nuggets, sparking both amusement and frustration among customers.

The AI’s performance issues have been widely documented online. In one notable TikTok video with 30,000 views, a young woman struggles to convince the AI that she wants a caramel ice cream, only for it to repeatedly add stacks of butter to her order.

Another video, which has garnered 360,000 views, depicts a customer receiving nine orders of tea due to the AI confusing her order with another customer’s. A particularly popular clip shows two individuals laughing uncontrollably as the AI adds hundreds of dollars worth of chicken nuggets to their order, while the New York Post reported a case where bacon was mistakenly added to someone’s ice cream.

With these issues going viral, Mcdonald’s went on to inform its franchisees that it will discontinue the use of the AI technology in over 100 restaurants by the end of July. This decision, first reported by Restaurant Business, marks the end of McDonald’s current global partnership with IBM on Automated Order Taking (AOT).

After thoughtful review, McDonald’s has decided to end our current global partnership with IBM on AOT beyond this year,” the restaurant chain said in a statement. But the tech isn’t out yet and the company seems optimistic about the future integration of AI technology in its operations. “We will continue to evaluate long-term, scalable solutions that will help us make an informed decision on a future voice ordering solution by the end of the year,” the statement added.

The initial implementation of the AI system sparked concerns about its potential to render human jobs obsolete. Though as we can see the technology’s inconsistent performance has highlighted the complexities of replacing human workers with AI in the fast-food industry – at least for the moment.

One thing that can be seen is that the videos that have gone viral have shown clearly that there are still plenty of limitations for automated systems in accurately processing customer orders in their current stages.

IBM, on its part, expressed confidence in the technology’s capabilities and its future applications. “This technology is proven to have some of the most comprehensive capabilities in the industry, fast and accurate in some of the most demanding conditions,

IBM went on to state. “While McDonald’s is re-evaluating and refining its plans for AOT, we look forward to continuing to work with them on a variety of other projects.”

ODSC Team

ODSC Team

ODSC gathers the attendees, presenters, and companies that are shaping the present and future of data science and AI. ODSC hosts one of the largest gatherings of professional data scientists with major conferences in USA, Europe, and Asia.

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