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Controversies behind McDonald’s first-ever ‘Robot’ drive-thru

Located outside McDonald’s Fort Worth, Texas, the first-ever ‘Robot’ drive-thru features an ‘order ahead lane’. Diners can receive their food via a conveyor belt, and kiosks to pick up shelves for meals and to place orders to go.


In a statement given this month, Keith Vanecek, the franchisee operating the test restaurant, explains that “The technology in this restaurant not only allows us to serve our customers in new, innovative ways, but it also gives our restaurant team the ability to concentrate more on order speed and accuracy, which makes the experience more enjoyable for everyone”


TikTok went viral last week with a clip posted on the social media platform showing an empty restaurant with no seating, and a machine pushing orders to customers at the drive-thru. This emphasizes the latest example of automation in the food industry.


McDonald’s also made a statement, mentioning that the restaurant is “considerably smaller” than its other stores. It is geared toward people dining at home or on the go, as there is a dedicated place for couriers to retrieve orders and designated spaces for parking for delivery drivers and curbside pick-up.


However, the footage which made 1.3 million views and counting raised controversies among McManus.

Various tiktokers grimaced in the comments section:

“If they forget an item, who are you supposed to tell, the robot?” “It defeats the purpose of using the drive-thru if you have to go inside for it.”

“No thanks. I love the people that work there. I want to hear voices and see faces. I want to see smiles at both windows!!!!”


The “enhanced technology” – Order Ahead drive-thru, will eliminate the not-so-crucial interaction between employees and customers.

However, others are happy about the initiative:

“Finally, my order will be quick and accurate”

“Awesome. No more attitude at the counter”


The location is not fully automated and the staff is still preparing the food. The restaurant has shifted its focus from dining-in to speed of orders – getting meals out faster to hungry customers. A spokesperson for McDonald’s notes that the restaurant employs the same amount of employees similar to that at a normal store.


At the moment, the fast-food chain highlighted that the restaurant is in the “test and learn” stage. The concept is part of its “Accelerating the Arches” growth strategy to deliver across 5 areas: “purpose, mission, values, growth pillars and our foundation of running great restaurants.”


According to the New York Post, the conglomerate has been trending with women decorating their Christmas tree with toys from Happy Meal, and others giving birth inside Atlanta-area McDonald’s…. let’s hope these robots are trained for such circumstances.

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