TikTok Is Not a Fan of McDonald's New AI Ordering System

"I just want a cup of ice cream!"

A customer goes through McDonald's drive-thru

Michael Siluk / Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The drive-through at McDonald's is already a tough place to be. Between the traffic jams and the angst of having to rehearse an order, careful not to annoy the workers behind the speaker box, real McDees stans know it can be a lot. 

So when the fast food giant introduced automated drive-thru ordering using artificial intelligence (A.I.) software, McDonald's customers had no idea what to expect. But as it turns out, machines haven't bested man yet. 

In 2021, McDonald's announced its partnership with BMI to "further accelerate the development and deployment of its Automated Order Taking (AOT) technology." According to the statement, the venture aimed to provide ordering solutions to customers to make the entire process seamless. At the time, McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski said he expected the artificial intelligence software to impact nearly 14,000 sites.

But as exciting as automated drive-thrus may seem, the technology isn't living up to the hype. But at least it's delivering hilarious results on TikTok. 

“So you all know how it’s 2023, and robots are taking over the world,” TikTok user Ren Adams lamented. Adams attempted to order some hash browns, some sweet tea, and a Coke. However, all that went out the window when another passenger pulled up next to her to order, which threw the A.I. in disarray, picking up the other driver’s order as well. When Adams attempted to tell the A.I. she didn’t want the other driver’s Diet Coke, it instead added eight more sweet teas to her order. Because, sure, why not. 

TikToker Madilynn Cameron shared her experience “fighting with a McDonald’s robot,” showcasing the sheer frustration of trying to correct its mistakes. When she attempts to order vanilla ice cream without caramel, the machine inexplicably adds cream packets instead. “I just want a large water and a cup of ice cream,” she adds in exasperation, adding, “where’d the butter come from!” when it appears on her order.

And then there's this 16 seconds of contagious laughter by Cailyn Sykora, which shows the TikToker attempting to stop the machine from ordering what appears to be hundreds of McNuggets on her behalf.

Despite the ongoing challenges with implementing AOT, McDonald's still plans to increase its use of A.I. in more restaurants. Kempczinski shared at the Alliance Bernstein's Strategic Decisions conference that it expects to roll out more technology within the next five years. In addition, he added, "McDonald's has also been looking into automating more of the kitchen, such as its fryers and grills." 

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