Review: I Saw Humans Working at the 'Automated' McDonald's

McDonald's invested in some spiffy new toys, but almost everything else stayed the same.


Recent reports of an "automated" McDonald's sparked some backlash: What will happen to the workers? It's a question they could pose directly to the employees at that franchise in Fort Worth, Texas, one of whom was confused when I told her I thought I'd found the automated location. "No, not this one," she said.

As it turns out, I actually was in the right place. McDonald's automated try-out isn't entirely eliminating human contact or human workers. There's still a drive-thru where you order and receive food from a living person. Inside ordering has been fully replaced by kiosks, but people still prepare and give you your food. The only way a customer can get an entirely non-human-contact experience is to order ahead on the restaurant's app, then pick up your food (still cooked by human beings) outside, courtesy of a conveyor belt.

This "automated" fast food restaurant with plenty of human workers is an apt metaphor for the panic around society's technological changes. McDonald's invested in some spiffy new toys, and most everything else stayed the same. That includes the taste of their M&M McFlurry, which remains superior to their dinner options.