McDonald's acquisition of AI voice technology company Apprente is part of the company's strategy to improve the efficiency of its drive-thru services


McDonald's is planning to use the voice-recognition technology to speed up orders at drive-thrus (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Fast food giant McDonald’s has completed the acquisition of voice-recognition technology start-up Apprente, as it bids to improve the speed of service at its drive-thrus.

Founded in 2017, the Silicon Valley start-up developed AI technology that’s capable of taking orders at drive-thru restaurants in several languages.

Co-founder of Apprente Itamar Arel said: “McDonald’s commitment to innovation has long inspired our team. It was quite clear from our various engagements that McDonald’s is leading the industry with technology.

“Apprente was borne out of an opportunity to use technology to solve challenging real-world problems and we’re thrilled to now apply this to creating personalised experiences for customers and crew.”

mcdonald's technology
McDonald’s claims that the multi-lingual voice-recognition tech could be integrated into its ordering kiosks in the future (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The burger chain claims that Apprente’s AI technology will make drive-thru ordering “faster, simpler and more accurate” and believes it has the potential to be used for mobile ordering or through its in-store touch-screen kiosks.


McDonald’s other technology investments

The Apprente team will be incorporated into the newly formed McD Tech Labs — a Silicon Valley-based innovation hub that will explore new technologies and applications to meet the fast food giant’s business needs.

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said: “Building our technology infrastructure and digital capabilities are fundamental to our Velocity Growth Plan and enable us to meet rising expectations from our customers, while making it simpler and even more enjoyable for crew members to serve guests.

“Apprente’s gifted team, and the technology they have developed, will form McD Tech Labs, a new group integrated in our Global Technology team that will take our culture of innovation one step further.”

The Velocity Growth Plan, outlined in 2017, highlights digital technology as one of three “accelerators” that could reshape the company’s interactions with consumers.

As part of this strategy, McDonald’s acquired Dynamic Yield in March this year.

With offices in New York and Tel Aviv, the firm is an AI-focused tech start-up, which had developed an algorithm to create personalised menus.

MacDonald’s revealed the technology will be used to recommend menu items to drive-thru customers based on external factors such as the weather, time of day or trending products.

McDonald’s previously tested voice-recognition software at one of its restaurants in Chicago prior to committing to the acquisition of Apprente.

The same restaurant was also host to a robotic deep-fat fryer, which automated the process of cooking chicken nuggets and fries.