Next time you go to the McDonald’s drive-thru, you might hear a recorded voice asking if you want to supersize your meal. That’s because the burger giant is in the middle of an effort to fully automate its drive-thrus in an attempt to cut down on service times.
McDonald’s says it has acquired Apparente, a Silicon Valley start-up that deals in conversational voice-based ordering technology. Founded in 2017, Apparente uses neuro-science-based artificial intelligence to create voice-based platforms that can not only recognize multi-item ordering, but can actually understand various accents as well.
“Apprente was borne out of an opportunity to use technology to solve challenging real world problems and we’re thrilled to now apply this to creating personalized experiences for customers and crew,” said Itamar Arel, co-founder of Apprente, in a statement.
McDonald’s believes that the new automated drive-thrus will not only shorten service time, but will allow for more accurate order-taking. The Apprente deal is the latest in a string of tech acquisitions, all part of McDonald’s’ plan to boost its presence in Silicon Valley by hiring more tech experts.
“Building our technology infrastructure and digital capabilities are fundamental to our Velocity Growth Plan and enable us to meet rising expectations from our customers, while making it simpler and even more enjoyable for crew members to serve guests,” said Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s president and CEO, in a news release.
The Apprente deal is just the latest acquisition for McDonald’s. Earlier this year, the company purchased Dynamic Yield, which is considered to be a leader in personalization and decision logic technology. That technology is already being used in 8,000 McDonald’s drive-thrus.
“The technology changes drive-thru menus based on time of day, weather, traffic and the customer’s order – all to coax the customer to spend more,” reports CNBC. “With this technology, McDonald’s says it is able ‘to provide an even more personalized customer experience.’”
In addition to the changes McDonald’s is making to their drive-thrus, the burger chain is currently adding digital menu boards and self-order kiosks to its US stores. It’s not totally clear whether all of these technological advancements will result in fewer jobs for real live human beings.