McD’s gets decidedly mixed reactions to its robot servers
McDonald’s last week opened its first partially automated restaurant, with machines handling everything from taking orders to delivering the food. The opening sparked both positive and negative responses on social media.
McDonald’s said in a December blog post about the pilot in Fort Worth, “The features — inside and outside — are geared toward customers who are planning to dine at home or on the go.”
Inside, a delivery pick-up room enables couriers to retrieve orders “quickly and conveniently.” Customers can place their orders at kiosks and obtain them at a pick-up shelf. No seating is available.
Outside the restaurant are several parking spaces dedicated to curbside order pick-up, as well as designated parking spaces for delivery drivers. A separate “Order Ahead Lane” enables those who order early enough through the McDonald’s app to skip the traditional Drive Thru line and receive their orders via a conveyor belt.
Humans still prepare the food. Keith Vanecek, the franchisee operating the test restaurant, said, “The technology in this restaurant not only allows us to serve our customers in new, innovative ways, it gives our restaurant team the ability to concentrate more on order speed and accuracy, which makes the experience more enjoyable for everyone.”
While “considerably smaller” than a traditional McDonald’s restaurant, a McDonald’s spokesperson told The Guardian that staffing is comparable to that of a typical location.
@McDonald’s has a new test concept
A TikTok video documenting the experience from @foodiemunster has generated more than 1.3 million downloads.
Among the responses to the video was one predicting that automation would lead to a loss of “millions of jobs.” Many commenters linked the change to the need for higher minimum wages. Others lamented the loss of human assistance. One stated, “Oh no first we have to talk with Siri and Google [and] now we have to talk to another computer.”
Another remarked, “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!!!!”
Some, however, celebrated the innovation as a move towards faster and more accurate orders, and saw the staff benefiting from being able to focus on less-tedious tasks. One joked, “Robots don’t play on their phones while people are waiting in line. I wonder what the minimum wage is for a robotic technician.”
- 5 Things to Know About McDonald’s New Test Restaurant in Texas – McDonald’s
- Touchscreens, conveyor belts: McDonald’s opens first largely automated location – The Guardian
- Welcome to the First Ever McDonald’s Where You’re Served by Robots — In Texas – Newsweek
- McDonald’s unveiled the automated store. Some consumers aren’t loving it. – CBS News
- First-ever ‘robot’ McDonald’s delivers heated reaction: ‘No thanks’ – New York Post
- McDonald’s Is Testing Robot Servers in Texas – Entrepreneur
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will the efficiencies gained from an automated restaurant such as McDonald’s pilot offset any aspects lost from removing human interaction? How important is human contact to the fast-food experience?