#Fightfor15: McDonald's Buys AI to Automate Drive-Thrus

The minimum wage hikes have hit fast food workers the hardest as fast food companies adapt and automate. Fighting for a $15 minimum wage means that some employees, increasingly part-timers, get paid $15 an hour, while a lot of others lose their jobs.

Automation would have probably come anyway, but without the minimum wage hikes would have been more limited in scope. Instead fast food work is being automated and outsourced to fast food gig economy delivery guys. And by the time the lefties catch up with the gig economy, the delivery will be done by drones.


McDonald’s said Tuesday it has agreed to acquire a company that is trying to automate the drive-thru. It’s the fast-food giant’s third tech-focused deal this year.

Apprente, a Silicon Valley company founded in 2017, uses artificial intelligence to understand drive-thru orders, which could cut down on service times. McDonald’s said the technology also could be used someday in its self-order kiosks and mobile app.

The Chicago-based company said it evaluated Apprente’s technology in McDonald’s test restaurants.

Apprente’s employees will be the founding members of a group called McD Tech Labs, which will be housed within McDonald’s global technology team. The burger chain wants to grow its presence in Silicon Valley by hiring more tech experts, including engineers and data scientists.

Why does it need them? Some of it is finding ways to manipulate customers. But it's also about the automation.



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