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McDonald's Shelves AI Plans

McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) is changing course on its artificial intelligence plans.

The fast-food giant will end a test run of its AI drive-through technology partnership with IBM (NYSE:IBM) in more than 100 restaurants. The so-called Automated Order Taker will be shut off no later than July 26, according to a memo sent to franchisees late last week.

The global AI partnership began in 2021. The combination of technologies from the two companies aimed to simplify and speed up operations with voice-activated ordering.

“While there have been successes to date, we feel there is an opportunity to explore voice ordering solutions more broadly,” said the franchisee memo from Mason Smoot, senior vice president and chief restaurant officer for McDonald’s U.S. “After thoughtful review, McDonald’s has decided to end our current partnership with IBM on AOT. … IBM remains a trusted partner and we will continue to utilize many of their other products across our system.”

The decision comes as restaurants from Del Taco to Wingstop (NASDAQ:WING) to Panera and more have been testing out various ways to use AI, from front to back of house as a way to streamline operations. Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) and Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM) have also been leaders in both robotics and AI investments in recent years.

MCD shares forged ahead two cents to $253.53, while those for IBM gained 53 cents to $170.05.