Fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Sonic, and Chipotle have been experimenting with AI-powered voice bots for taking phone and drive-thru orders for a few years.
However, a number of McDonald’s customers using TikTok have been sharing their frustration – and sometimes even uncontrollable amusement – due to encounters with voice bots that are incapable of processing their orders correctly.
In recent times, the AI revolution may have fallen short of expectations. For instance, ChatGPT’s exam performance was merely satisfactory, and AI art generators have been criticized for blatantly plagiarizing existing work.
Despite the hype surrounding the automation and modernization of fast-food service, McDonald’s experiment with an AI-powered drive-thru seems to be facing similar challenges when it comes to precision. Several videos on social media are exposing the limitations of AI in accurate processing and fulfilling customers’ orders at McDonald’s.
“This summer, McDonald’s tested the tech at a handful of Chicago restaurants,” CNBC reported in October 2021. “[McDonald’s CEO Chris] Kempczinski said the test showed ‘substantial benefits’ to customers and employees.”
Those of us that visit McDonald’s stores without an AI drive-thru have no idea how infuriating it must be to order from a machine, but videos posted to TikTok illustrate just how inefficient the drive-thru ordering system can be.
A viral post by @themaddivlog shows a young woman in an Adidas beanie struggling to order a cup of vanilla ice cream.
“I just want a large water and a cup of ice cream,” the TikToker insists.
She grows exasperated when the order display menu shows she ordered two butters and four ketchup packets. The text overlay on the video states: “Fighting with McDonald’s robot.”
After multiple attempts to get her order straight, she ends the video:
“McDonald’s, I’m done. We’re done.”
For businesses like McDonald’s, this is a tempting opportunity to substitute human workers with robots amid a severe labor shortage.
In fact, McDonald’s is aiming to replace even more human workers in the near future. Last year, it replaced workers with conveyor belts that deliver orders straight to the customer, a dystopian glimpse into the future of fast food.