A major change is taking place at McDonald's restaurants across the country, and may have already happened here in Minnesota.

Anytime a major fast-food chain makes a change, it's big news. Especially when it's a fast-food staple like McDonald's, which has a TON of locations across the U.S. and right in our own backyards in MinnesotaThis Visual Capitalist story says McDonald's has 13,444 locations in the U.S., second only to Starbucks and Subway.

Here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, you're never very far from a McDonald's location, either. While the McDonald's site doesn't say just how many locations it has here in the Bold North24/7 Wall Street says the number is close to 226.

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McDonald's doesn't just have a lot of locations, but also a lot of employees. When I was in high school, my first real job (outside of delivering newspapers on my paper route-- is that even a THING anymore?) was working at McDonald's. And, I wasn't alone, this Yahoo News story says that 1 in 8 Americans (about 13.7%) have worked for, or are currently working at the Golden Arches!

A McDonald's location in Rochester, Minnesota. (Google Street View)
A McDonald's location in Rochester, Minnesota. (Google Street View)

This new change has likely already taken place at your local McDonald's location, and it isn't a change to their menu, unlike when McDonald's made news earlier this spring after it announced its $5 Value Menu was returning.

This change involves McDonald's moving away from its Automated Order Taker pilot, which used Artificial Intelligence in drive-thrus to help speed up orders. CBS News reports that "The goal of the test was to determine if an automated voice ordering solution could simplify operations for crew and create a faster, improved experience for our fans," CBS News noted a McDonald's spokesperson said in a statement.

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The technology was being tested at over 100 of McDonald's reported 27,000 drive-thru locations, (no word if any of them were here in Minnesota) but the AI-based program, developed by IBM, didn't speed things up so much as it just got things wrong, CBS said. A lot. Check out the following video for an example:

So, while McDonald's might be ending this version of its AI-based order-taking software for now, they're not throwing in the towel completely on AI technology, according to CBS News:

"As we move forward, our work with IBM has given us the confidence that a voice ordering solution for drive-thru will be part of our restaurants' future," a McDonald's spokesperson said in a statement in the story.

McDonald's has been around for a long time and is known for having made changes to its menu and other parts of its restaurants over the years. Keep scrolling to check out some former favorite menu items that you'll now no longer find under the Golden Arches.

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LOOK: 15 Discontinued McDonald's Menu Items


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