Over the past year, McDonald’s captured headlines after it announced it was going to roll out (and subsequently expand) its use of artificial intelligence-powered drive-thru machines.
The machines, which work thanks to a partnership with IBM, are supposed to function by processing customers’ orders in real-time. Artificial intelligence is used to determine exactly what the customer wants, utilizing this intelligence to take complex orders and special requests into account.
According to McDonald’s, these machines are supposed to benefit both the customers and employees.
“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.”
But how do these machines work in the real world? According to a viral TikTok from user Dal (@that_usa_guy), there are still some growing pains that need to be worked through.
In a video with over 271,000 views, Dal shows an order he placed using one of the AI machines for two ice cream cones. The video shows the “intelligence” opted to add bacon to his cones, which he did not request. After a prolonged interaction, an employee jumps in and correctly takes the order.
@that_usa_guy FAIL: The new AI ordering system at McDonald's #mcdonalds #AI #artificialintelligence @McDonald’s Corporate ♬ original sound – Dal JustDal
Dal later visited a McDonald’s AI machine again, according to another video he posted. The machine messes up his order a second time, failing to recognize that he wants a Mountain Dew with his meal. Dal is again unable to rectify the error using solely the AI, resulting in another employee taking over the ordering process.
@that_usa_guy Trying the McDonald's AI drive thru….Again @McDonald’s Corporate #fail ♬ original sound – Dal JustDal
At first, some users were critical of Dal’s ordering procedure.
“Was more frustrated by the user than the robot. Speak clearer commands next time,” wrote one user.
“Mans trying to order the same way my grandma uses Google,” added another.
However, others pointed out that an employee likely could have handled the order correctly the first time.
“This is what it will be if they get rid of employees,” a commenter stated.
“‘Robots are going to replace all the minimum wage workers,’” a second joked.
“Anything not to have to pay people to do the work,” shared a further TikToker.
The Daily Dot reached out to Dal via TikTok comment and McDonald’s via email.