Start saying your goodbyes to pimply teenagers taking your order at fast food restaurants and say hello to robotic servers with robotic smiles. McDonalds, one of the world’s largest fast food chains, has now begun testing automated digital server kiosks. McDonalds (and technology in general) is a ways away from integrating full-on robotic servers and cashiers (like Yuko of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) but this does mark a shift in the company’s future, one that has begun to take hold across the fast food industry.
Only a few McDonald’s restaurants are currently testing out the digital ordering system. One of these locations is the McDonald’s in Wesley Chapel, Florida, as reported in The Tampa Tribune. Along with the digital serving kiosk, which is currently in the “test run” is a new customizable ordering system. Both of these services are currently only available in 6 other McDonald’s across the United States.
Much like the tablet-ordering system employed by certain sit-down restaurants, the McDonald’s serving kiosk is a touchscreen system situated by the front counter (where one would normally order food) which lets a customer pick and choose their meal on their own. The new “Create Your Taste” then takes customer independence to new levels, as the option allows you to customize nearly any menu item via the digital kiosk.
An easy-to-use ordering system that allows for customization probably sounds great to any customers, but what about the McDonalds employees who are out of a shift thanks to this new digital system? For the test run, employees seem to be safe, as 15 more workers were added to the process to help people with the new digital system, to bring food to customers, and to clean tables.
But while McDonald’s employees are safe from robot replacements for now, what happens in the future when the digital ordering system and robotic servers become widespread, and customers no longer need any assistance in placing orders? Researchers at the University of Oxford believe that there is a 92% likelihood that all fast food ordering and meal preparation will be done by automated machines, specifically robotic servers, in the near future, a logical leap for fast food companies looking to save money on the hourly wages of workers.
What it will really come down to is how customers react to the use of digital-automated systems in fast food restaurants. So ask yourself, do you need a smile with your burger, or just the fries?
Featured image courtesy of: The Tampa Tribune