McDonald’s has been operating a few automated, robot-run restaurant drive thrus for a year, but now the company is ready to expand the operations across the country, firing thousands of employees as they go.
McDonald’s is set to make a huge leap in automated burger stands by partnering with tech giant IBM after the computing company bought out McD Tech Labs (formerly named Apprente) to begin working with the burger chain to expand and improve its automated restaurants.
McDonald’s had been testing the automated drive thru system in a few locations around Chicago, but now they are ready to move forward with a larger presence for the nearly human-free system.
“In my mind, IBM is the ideal partner for McDonald’s given their expertise in building AI-powered customer care solutions and voice recognition,” McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said on the earnings call with analysts Wednesday.
The Apprente technology uses AI to understand drive-thru orders. This summer, McDonald’s tested the tech at a handful of Chicago restaurants. Kempczinski said the test showed “substantial benefits” to customers and employees.
In June, at the same conference where he disclosed the Chicago test, Kempczinski shared McDonald’s strategy for tech acquisitions.
McDonald’s added that it will be shedding about 100 employees who worked with its tech department — most will move over to IBM.
But what the company did not mention is that any restaurant that deploys the automated system will also be shedding dozens of employees at each location. And if the automated system gets big enough, the company will also start eliminating mid and lower level management, too. After all, what do you need thousands of regional managers for if they have no employees to keep up after?
Say goodbye to the opportunity to earn a first job for millions of American young people.
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