Ice-cream with tomato sauce? McDonald’s is ending its test run of AI drive-thrus



McDonald’s declined to comment about the automated order taker’s accuracy. In an initial statement, IBM said that “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”, but did not immediately respond to a request for further comment about specifics of potential challenges.

The US tech company also said that it is currently “in discussions and pilots” with several other quick-serve restaurant clients interested in the automated order taker.

According to trade publication Restaurant Business and CNBC, which obtained a memo sent to franchisees last week, the automated order technology will be shut off in McDonald’s locations testing it “no later than July 26, 2024”.

Both IBM and McDonald’s maintained that, while their AI drive-thru partnership was ending, the two would continue their relationship on other projects. McDonald’s said that it still plans to use many of IBM’s products across its global system.


In December, McDonald’s launched a multi-year partnership with Google Cloud. In addition to moving restaurant computations from servers into the cloud, the partnership is also set to apply generative AI “across a number of key business priorities” in restaurants around the world.


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