McDonald’s To Use AI At Drive-Thru Menus

A McDonald's sign is seen on a restaurant on April 30, 2018 in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Fast-food giant McDonald’s plans to add technology to its drive-through menus that will offer customers better choices based on factors such as their past orders, local weather, events, and even traffic conditions.

In a statement released on Tuesday, McDonald’s announced that it had acquired Dynamic Yield, a company specializing in personalization and decision logic technology. The company plans to utilize the AI-powered software in its drive-thru menus, self-order kiosks, and mobile apps to provide customers with a more unique shopping experience.

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a YouTube video that by offering the company’s 68 million daily customers suggestions based on their current choices, they can offer them more personalized experiences like the ones they have when they are shopping on Amazon or Wal-Mart. For example, when a customer makes a selection, the AI can suggest items that might go along with the choice. The technology might also show what other customers have ordered when they made a similar purchase. Easterbrook went on to say that the possibilities for the software would include the ability to suggest menu items based on a customer’s shopping history.

The software would also help make restaurants more efficient by tracking service times and suggesting items that are quicker and easier to make during the busiest times of the day. Customers could also see specialized suggestions such as a cool, refreshing drink on a hot day.

In the statement, McDonald’s said that the acquisition will allow the restaurant chain to become one of the first companies that will bring decision technology to brick and mortar customers at the point of sale.

According to an earlier news release, McDonald’s tested the technology in some of its restaurants in 2018 and plans to integrate the software with U.S. restaurants in 2019 before launching it internationally.

The company also said that the technology was a “critical element” of its Velocity Growth Plan, a growth strategy based on enhancing its customer experience by focusing on convenience.

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Liad Agmon, CEO of Dynamic Yield, said in a statement that Dynamic Yield will play an essential role in McDonald’s digital transformation by allowing it to become more customer-focused. Dynamic Yield will reportedly remain an independent company and will continue to work with current clients, as well as attract future clients.

CNBC reported that the estimated $300 million deal is McDonald’s biggest and most expensive in 20 years, illustrating how the company is betting on technology to help it not only survive but also thrive, in the digital age.