The first fully automated McDonald's has arrived in Fort Worth, Texas. Here, a conveyor belt serves customers food they order online or using a kiosk machine. The fast-food restaurant has no seats, tables or drive-thru greeters.
Customers can either drive-thru and pickup their Happy Meals or walk-in to the very strange, futuristic interior that is nothing but countertops, bathrooms and a glass window where the cooks are busy preparing for the lunch rush.
The logo on the wall says it all, "Happiness fits in a bag."
This new automated fast-food concept is known as McDonalds's 'Takeaway and Drive-Thru' Concept. If this works, it will certainly raise plenty of robotics and automation questions not to mention an occasional discussion on ethics.
This automated concept comes at a time when McDonald's has fallen behind the competition in terms of drive-thru service, according to a 2022 survey conducted by QSR Magazine that revealed KFC as the fastest drive-thru experience in 2022.
"When asked what the top two reasons they choose to order using the drive-thru were, per this year’s study, guests picked 'Convenience' and 'Speed of Service.' Similar to last year’s edition, it’s become crystal those factors aren’t tied at the hip any longer. In fact, one is holding fort while the other ebbs. Seventy-eight percent of customers picked convenience as their No. 1 drive-thru draw.
Consumers battle accuracy, speed and quality when it comes to their fast-food preferences. What works for one company may not work quite as well for another.
Still, the late Henry Ford would love to hear that people are using an assembly line concept to order Big Macs, Quarter Pounders and Chicken McNuggets in 2023. It's just another example of humanity's push toward automation perfection.
The automated test kitchen comes at a turning point in fast-food service as companies scramble to provide similar IIoT and smart factory solutions to consumers.
There's no word yet on what happens if the conveyor belt spits out the wrong order or a customer needs to walk back into the restaurant and attempt to get the attention of a cook behind the glass.
Seconds could turn into minutes, minutes into hours, hours into days and nobody wants to deal with a cold bag of French Fries no matter what technology is involved in their preparation.
Check out the short video tour by Instagram food blogger, foodie_munster here: