McDonald's Acquire AI Startup to Automate Drive-Thru | Financial Buzz

McDonald’s Acquire AI Startup to Automate Drive-Thru

McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) announced on Tuesday that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Apprente, an early stage artificial intelligence company. The acquisition will help further advanced McDonald’s employee and customer interaction and strengthen its technology capabilities.

Apprente, founded in 2017, creates voice-based platforms for multilingual, multi-accent, and multi-item conversational ordering. The technology can be used in McDonald’s restaurants to simplify and speed up orders at the Drive Thru.

“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” said Steve Easterbrook, President and Chief Executive Officer, McDonald’s Corporation. “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.”

Apprente’s employees will be the founding members of a group within McDonald’s Global Technology Team called McD Tech Labs. 

McDonald’s move for Apprente marks its technology acquisition this year. Earlier this year in March, McDonald’s acquired Dynamic Yield, then later took a minority stake in Plexure.

McDonald’s deployed Dynamic Yield’s machine learning technology in more than 8,000 U.S. drive-thrus. The tech changes the drive-thru menu automatically depending on the time of day, weather, traffic, and the customer’s order in efforts to get them to spend more. 

Easterbrook has been implementing more technology into chains. McDonald’s chains across the U.S. are renovating their stores by integrating digital menus, self-order kiosks and other technology. Easterbrook noted in the previous quarter that the kiosks have been generating higher average checks in the U.S.