Google Cloud Will Serve Generative AI to McDonald’s Restaurants
McDonald’s will incorporate generative AI features into its restaurants via a new global partnership with Google Cloud. The fast food giant plans to tap Google’s cloud computing hardware, data analytics, and generative AI capabilities to produce and release improvements to its stores using Google Cloud’s AI creations.
McDonald’s Generative Service
A Google Cloud team in Chicago is collaborating with McDonald’s innovation lab Speedee Labs to experiment with and deploy generative AI into its business, including revamping customer experiences and upping efficiency. One method involves Google Distributed Cloud edge computing, which will augment thousands of individual McDonald’s locations with access to cloud-based apps and on-site generative AI processing. The shift aims to provide local insights into kitchen performance, reduce disruptions, and simplify workflows so staff can focus more on hospitality. McDonald’s will become the largest food service company using these capabilities globally.
“We see tremendous opportunity for growth in our digital business and our partnership with Google Cloud allows us to capitalize on this by leveraging our size and scale to build capabilities and implement solutions at unmatched speeds,” McDonald’s executive vice president and global chief information officer Brian Rice explained. “Connecting our restaurants worldwide to millions of datapoints across our digital ecosystem means tools get sharper, models get smarter, restaurants become easier to operate, and most importantly, the overall experience for our customers and crew gets even better.”
McDonald’s has a long history of experimenting with AI in its locations. The company created McD Tech Labs to pursue that project after the 2019 acquisition of voice tech startup Apprente. But McDonald’s then sold McD Tech Labs to IBM as part of a partnership deal to set up 10 McDonald’s with voice AI in 2021 in a pilot program it soon doubled. The connection to the new arrangement, which doesn’t include IBM’s Watsonx generative AI, isn’t clear.
This isn’t Google Cloud’s first foray into providing AI for fast-food restaurants, either. The tech giant previously partnered with Wendy’s to provide a generative AI-powered voice assistant called Wendy’s FreshAI for drive-thrus, starting with Columbus, Ohio. But there’s no question that Google Cloud will have made a significant victory should McDonald’s decide to marry its enormous number of restaurants with Google Cloud’s generative AI features.
“Through this wide-ranging partnership, Google Cloud will help McDonald’s seize on new opportunities to transform its business and customer experiences, empowering restaurants worldwide with the latest technologies for near-term impact,” said Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian. “Pairing the iconic brand, size and scale of McDonald’s with Google Cloud’s deep history in AI and technology innovation will redefine how this industry works and what people expect when they dine out.”