McDonald’s Cancels AI Trial After Viral Order Mix-ups

by Nick

McDonald’s has decided to discontinue a trial of AI-powered voice ordering at approximately 100 outlets following viral videos showcasing order mishaps.

The fast-food chain announced the retirement of its AI-assisted ordering system, which was introduced in collaboration with IBM in 2021, after conducting a comprehensive review. “IBM remains a valued partner, and we will continue to utilize many of their products globally,” McDonald’s stated in a press release on Tuesday.


The news was first reported by Restaurant Business, a trade publication, on Friday.


Although McDonald’s did not specify the reason for ending the partnership, this decision follows the circulation of TikTok videos highlighting the system’s errors, including incorrect orders, duplicated orders, and unusual food combinations like ice cream with ketchup and butter.


However, McDonald’s indicated that this halted trial does not signify the end of its AI exploration. The company expressed confidence that a voice ordering solution for drive-through services would be integrated into its future operations. “Our collaboration with IBM has provided us with insights, and we believe that a voice ordering solution for drive-throughs will play a role in our restaurants going forward,” McDonald’s affirmed.


“We recognize the potential in advancing our restaurant technology and will continue to assess sustainable solutions that will inform our decision on a future voice ordering system by the year’s end,” the statement added.

McDonald’s decision to terminate the pilot program aligns with a broader trend among restaurant chains embracing AI technologies for enhanced efficiency and reduced labor costs.

Several major fast-food brands in the United States, such as Chipotle, Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, have already implemented AI-assisted systems in recent years. In April, Joe Park, the technology chief at Yum Brands, the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, emphasized the advantages of an “AI-first mentality” in streamlining operations across their brands, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.


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