Some forward thinking McDonalds branches located in Japan are revolutionizing the way people order their fast food. Starting this month, they will be testing a system in which users can order and pay for a McDonald’s meal through their car’s navigation system. After that, all you have to do is drive to the McDonalds and pick up your food! This may seem like it is something that is still a few years in the future for most of us, however, in Japan, there is enough technology already in place to make this possible in the next year or so. Let me explain.
Japan has a wireless traffic news network, known as the ITS, that will pick up signal from a nearby McDonalds and will automatically provide a menu on your GPS touch screen. You can browse through menu items and choose your meal then pay for it through compatible devices in your car. McDonalds is hoping this will reduce their ordering and wait times as well as attract more customers. Currently, 26 companies and 8 cars are trying to make this happen. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Panasonic System Networks Co are managing the ITS and POS while Toyota and Pioneer Corp will be providing the equipment and car navigation systems.
While this seems like a great idea, there are some things that we are concerned about. For starters, it seems dangerous to do all of this in your car and might cause accidents much like texting and driving. Safety measures such as pulling over before ordering might be overlooked by many people, if they are not requirements of the system. If the system does require you to pull over to order, it may not be as popular or as widely used. We also have concerns that this is not helping people practice healthy eating. This may be a moot point for current fast food eaters. Generally, if you are going to eat McDonalds, you will eat it no matter the ordering process. The worry is that the system could make it so easy and convenient to eat fast food that it draws many people who would otherwise have abstained. We also imagine that, even if the system expands to include more restaurant options, that they will likely all be fast food restaurants as well.
We are also curious about the probability of having the money to afford the new cars that will use this system, and being a person that regularly eats McDonalds. If you are rich enough to have this in your car, will you be eating at McDonalds or will you spend more money and time getting something to eat that is healthier?
If this does take off, we can only guess that McDonalds might try this out in the United States next. We think the last thing this nation needs is an even more convenient way to add to the obesity problem. Do you think this will reach the United States, and if it does, do you think it’s a good idea?