McDonald’s has acquired AI powered voice technology startup Apprente which seeks to enable “a human-level customer service experience” at automated kiosks.
Apprente, founded in 2017 in Silicon Valley, develops voice-based conversational systems for complex, multi-accent and multi-item conversational ordering.
Its voice technology has already been tested by the fast food giant in select drive-thrus and even on robotic fryers, with a view to rolling it our to more locations and in-store devices in the future.
Apprente’s team and its technology will now form McD Tech Labs, a new group headed up by Apprente’s co-founder which will be employed to help drive McDonald’s technology arm.
“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,” McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook said.
McDonald’s said that before deciding to acquire Apprente it embarked on an “extensive exploration with several parties” including testing of the different systems in several restaurants.
This follows news in March that McDonald’s had acquired Dynamic Yield in a deal worth $300 million hoping to use its AI technology to transform its digital menus, offering customers tailored selections depending on a range of factors including the weather, how busy the restaurant is and the time of day.
This personalised technology has now been rolled out in over 8000 restaurants in the US.