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McDonald’s to end AI trial in US over ordering mishaps

McDonald’s is removing AI-powered ordering tools from its drive-thru restaurants in the US after customers shared experiences of the technology going wrong online.

The system, developed by IBM, uses voice recognition to process orders and had been used at more than 100 McDonald’s restaurants since first being introduced as part of a test in 2021.

But its reliability had come into question after a number of videos and posts appeared online detailing ordering mishaps such as bacon being added to ice cream and hundreds of dollars worth of chicken nuggets being added to an order.

According to trade publication Restaurant Business, which first reported the news, McDonald’s has instructed franchisees to remove the tech by the end of July as it will not be extending the trial.

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In a statement, the US food giant said: “While there have been successes to date, we feel there is an opportunity to explore voice ordering solutions more broadly.

“After a thoughtful review, McDonald’s has decided to end our current partnership with IBM on AOT (automated order taking) and the technology will be shut off in all restaurants currently testing it no later than July 26 2024.”

The company added that it remained confident that the technology would be a part of the firm’s future.

The trial comes as concerns persist in some quarters over the potential impact of artificial intelligence on jobs and its potential to reshape the workplace and jobs market.

In May, the first major scientific report on advanced AI safety included the technology’s potential to disrupt jobs among the potential systemic risks of the technology, if it was not monitored and developed responsibly.