TechMcDonald's pulls AI order system after unusual error complaints

McDonald's pulls AI order system after unusual error complaints

McDonald's finishes testing orders fulfilled by artificial intelligence
McDonald's finishes testing orders fulfilled by artificial intelligence
Images source: © Pixabay
Malwina Witkowska

22 June 2024 11:03

After a year of testing, McDonald's has withdrawn its AI-based ordering technology. According to the BBC, the system could generate unusual orders, such as ice cream with bacon.

IBM announced 2019 the trial version of its voice recognition software-based system for processing orders in McDonald's restaurants.

Now, the chain is pulling back the AI-based order-taking technology. This concerns more than 100 drive-thru locations and marks the end of the test period. McDonald's decided to make this move after customers shared their amusing mishaps online. The AI was to blame for all of it.

Strange orders at McDonald's

Customers served by artificial intelligence complained about numerous errors. Many of these cases were recorded and posted on TikTok. In one video, a young woman tried convincing the AI that she wanted caramel ice cream, only for the system to add several butter packs to her order.

In another video, a customer claimed his order was confused with someone else's, causing nine teas to be added to his bill. One McDonald's customer received ice cream with bacon.

McDonald's informed franchisees that by the end of July, it will withdraw AI from the more than 100 restaurants where it was tested.

"After thoughtful review, McDonald’s has decided to end our current global partnership with IBM on automated order taking beyond this year", the restaurant chain said in a statement quoted by the BBC.

Despite this, McDonald's assures that technology will still be part of its restaurants' future.

"We see tremendous opportunity in advancing our restaurant technology and 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 chain added.

Will AI replace workers?

The artificial intelligence used by McDonald's has been controversial from the beginning. Initially, concerns focused on reducing the number of jobs. Many people worried that the ordering process automation could lead to restaurant redundancies. However, system tests showed that replacing human workers might not be as simple as initially feared.

Proponents of the system had hoped that artificial intelligence would increase efficiency and reduce operating costs. Still, numerous mistakes and amusing mishaps have shown that the technology is not yet ready to replace humans fully. Problems such as adding unordered products to orders, mixing up different customers' orders, and generating absurd food combinations led McDonald's to withdraw the system from use.

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