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McDonalds acquires Apprente to bring speech recognition to drive thrus

McDonalds acquires Apprente to bring speech recognition to drive thrus

In an effort to bring speech recognition to the drive thru, McDonald’s has acquired conversational artificial intelligence startup Apprente, TechCrunch reports.

Apprente’s technology is already being tested in some McDonald’s locations, to deliver “faster, simpler and more accurate order taking,” according to the repot. McDonald’s said Apprente’s technology could be used in mobile and kiosk ordering, and may allow the fast food restaurants to lower head-count, along with wait times.

The Apprente team will become founding members of a new McD Tech Labs, which the restaurant giant says it intends to expand by hiring engineers, data scientists, and others. Apprente Co-founder Itamar Arel will be the Vice President of McD Tech Labs.

In an announcement to Apprent’s website, Arel and Co-founder Moshe Looks said drive-thrus quickly emerged as a good use case for its proprietary AI technology.

“We’ve spent the past couple of years tackling this challenging real-world task, and along the way, we developed novel machine learning and speech understanding technologies, culminating in an industry-leading, robust and scalable solution,” they write.

The deal, for which terms were not disclosed, comes after Apprente raised $4.8 million in the two years since its founding.

McDonald’s also acquired an online personalization startup, Dynamic Yield, for more than $300 million earlier this year to improve customer experiences at its drive thrus.

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