McDonald's (MCD) announced Tuesday that it has acquired voice-technology company Apprente, as the fast-food giant seeks to automate its drive-thru.

Apprente, a Silicon Valley-based startup, is developing a conservational, multilingual platform that will allow customers to order at drive-thrus without an employee present. McDonald's has already tested the digital platform at some of its restaurants. 

"Building our technology infrastructure and digital capabilities are fundamental to our velocity growth plan and enable us to meet rising expectations from our customers, while making it simpler and even more enjoyable for crew members to serve guests," said Steve Easterbrook, President and CEO of McDonald's Corp.

Apprente co-founder Itamar Arel said "McDonald's is leading the industry with technology" and that "Apprente was borne out of an opportunity to use technology to solve challenging real-world problems and we're thrilled to now apply this to creating personalized experiences for customers and crew." 

Easterbrook said that the employees in Apprente would start McD Tech Labs in Silicon Valley, which would seek to develop new cutting-edge technologies for the iconic restaurant chain.  

Founded in 2017, Apprente's "sound-to-meaning" voice-assistant technology could make ordering at drive-thrus a quicker and more efficient experience. 

McDonald's has already used automated touch-screen ordering at its restaurants and also has a mobile ordering app. Apprente's voice technologies could be implemented in both of these platforms.

In March, McDonald's acquired tech company Dynamic Yield, which allows outdoor drive-thru displays to show food based on factors such as time of day, current restaurant traffic and trending menu items. 

Automation has emerged as a hot-button issue in the 2020 presidential race. Democratic candidate Andrew Yang has offered a plan to have every American receive $1,000 a month, as he believes automation will cause drastic changes in the workforce, which will cause people to work less.