Home Bacon with ice cream? McDonald’s AI drive-thru trial isn’t going well

Bacon with ice cream? McDonald’s AI drive-thru trial isn’t going well


  • McDonald’s is ending its AI-powered drive-thru pilot with IBM after customer frustrations and will remove the tech by July 26.
  • The AI system faced issues like adding unwanted items to orders, leading to plans for exploring other voice ordering solutions.
  • Odd order suggestions, such as bacon on ice cream, were common, prompting McDonald's to return to human order-taking for now.

McDonald’s AI drive-thrus are going viral but for all the wrong reasons. Customers have been left frustrated after being unable to order their meals, leading to the trial of AI ending.

The fast food chain was running a pilot of an AI-powered ordering assistant with IBM but this will now be ending as the technology is set to be removed from around 100 stores nationwide.

According to an email sent to franchisees last Thursday (June 13) which was acquired by Restaurant Business, the test will be removed by July 26.

“While there have been successes to date, we feel there is an opportunity to explore voice ordering solutions more broadly,” Mason Smoot, the chief restaurant officer for Mcdonald’s USA wrote in the system message.

“After a thoughtful review, McDonald’s has decided to end our current partnership with IBM on AOT and the technology will be shut off in all restaurants currently testing it no later than July 26, 2024.”


Trying the McDonald’s AI drive thru….Again @McDonald’s Corporate #fail

♬ original sound – Dal JustDal


Smoot explained the company will continue to evaluate plans to make “an informed decision on a future voice ordering solution by the end of the year.”

Odd suggestions from McDonald’s AI drive-thru

For now, suggestions of bacon-topped ice cream cones will be halted as the Chicago-based company is switching back to order-taking by humans.

The AI has been in action for a while though, with the pilot beginning over two years ago.

Since the pilot began, customers have taken to social media to share their experiences of the automated order-taking robot. In one video, a man made his order and then can be heard saying “You added bacon to my ice cream cone, I don’t want bacon.”

After the AI removed the bacon, it changed the order to three ice cream cones instead of two. When told the customer just wants one, the machine wipes the order entirely.


I thought TikTok would appreciate this 💀 #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #comedy #fail

♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

Another customer placed an order and then saw the machine rapidly increasing the amount of McNuggets, taking it to over 2000 on the order.

Featured Image: Via Ideogram

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Sophie Atkinson
Tech Journalist

Sophie Atkinson is a UK-based journalist and content writer, as well as a founder of a content agency which focuses on storytelling through social media marketing. She kicked off her career with a Print Futures Award which champions young talent working in print, paper and publishing. Heading straight into a regional newsroom, after graduating with a BA (Hons) degree in Journalism, Sophie started by working for Reach PLC. Now, with five years experience in journalism and many more in content marketing, Sophie works as a freelance writer and marketer. Her areas of specialty span a wide range, including technology, business,…

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