A project in Japan stands to make fast food even faster, by letting you order your McDonald's burger and fries via your sat nav before you arrive.
The first tests of the system will begin this month, at one drive-through restaurant just outside Tokyo. If all goes to plan, the service will be rolled out across the country in due course. A hungry driver will be able to call up a list of options on their satnav screen, select a nearby drive-through, peruse the menu, place an order, and then be guided to where a hot bag of delicious calories will be waiting.
A group of companies including Toyota and Panasonic are working on the idea, which relies on a wireless information service called ITS (Intel Transport System). Sadly, we don't have such a system in Europe, but we do have other technologies in place that could make this a reality on our shores.
All that’s needed is GPS, so the system knows where you are, maps to find the nearest participating drive-through, a 3G or GPRS web connection to send your order, some software and a few well-trained code monkeys to to tie it all together. In short, it's nothing that couldn’t be programmed into an iPhone or Android app.
In Japan, e-wallet systems are apparently widespread and will underpin the experiment. When an order is placed and confirmed, the wallet is automatically debited for the price of the meal.
Here in the UK we still prefer cards and cash, and our contactless payment systems can be rather hit and miss, so you might still need to ensure you have the money to pay for your Big Mac Meal before you decide to go large through your satnavscreen.
Here's hoping they figure out a way preventing your meal going cold if you're held up in traffic.