McDonald’s to deploy automated drive-throughs in partnership with IBM

Process will use voice-recognition software to streamline ordering process
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A McDonald's in Minneapolis, June 2020
A McDonald's in Minneapolis, June 2020
(Stephen Maturen/Getty)

Fast-food giant McDonald’s is preparing to move forward with an expanded automated drive-through ordering system in a partnership with IBM, a technology the company says is already showing promising results.

McDonald’s announced earlier this year that it was debuting automated drive-up services in the Chicago area. CEO Chris Kempczinski said the system could fulfill orders with up to 85% accuracy. 

This week the company announced in an earnings call that it had entered into a partnership with IBM  to accelerate the development of that system. 

IBM “is the ideal partner for McDonald’s given their expertise in building AI-powered customer care solutions and voice recognition,” Kempczinski told callers.

The computer company as part of the deal will acquire McDonald’s McD Tech Labs. The company has not revealed financial terms for the deal, though CFO Kevin Ozan said during the call that the deal “isn’t a big financial statement impact, plus or minus.”