McDonald’s has made its third technology acquisition this year after snapping up a firm whose software will enable greater levels of automation between its drive thrus and kitchens.
The company has purchased Apprente, a two-year-old business that specialises in voice-based, conversational technology.
McDonald’s said the takeover gives it “first-mover advantage” in the voice recognition field and will alleviate pressure on restaurant employees when it is rolled out.
The Apprente team will form a new, internal, integrated division within McDonald’s called McD Tech Labs, which will complement the chain’s Innovation Centre in Chicago, where new kitchen innovations are tested out.
McDonald’s has already been experimenting with the technology in test restaurants and expects it to lead to faster, simpler and more accurate order taking at the drive thru, with future potential to incorporate into mobile ordering and kiosks.
“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” said Steve Easterbrook, president and CEO.
Mr Easterbook said McDonald’s would look to bolster the McD Tech Labs team over time by growing its presence in Silicon Valley with the hiring of additional engineers, data scientists and other advanced technology experts.
In April, McDonald’s acquired Dynamic Yield, a provider of personalisation and decision logic technology, which is now deployed in over 8,000 restaurants in the US with plans to be integrated into nearly all drive thrus in the US and Australia by the end of 2019.
It also invested in Plexure, a mobile app vendor, earlier this year to further advance the development of McDonald’s Global Mobile App.