In what’s a bad news Uber Eats but a major win for DoorDash, McDonald’s announced today it has partnered with the latter to expand delivery in the U.S. This officially puts an end to McDonald’s exclusive partnership with Uber Eats, which the quick-service mega-chain had in place since 2017.

According to a press release, McDonald’s and DoorDash will launch the partnership with a pilot at more than 200 locations in the Houston, TX area. That’s slated to kick off on July 29. For those using DashPass, DoorDash’s monthly subscription service, McDonald’s will waive the delivery fee for orders of $12 or more.

It’s a surprising twist, said no one ever. The Uber Eats-McDonald’s exclusive deal technically ended in April of this year, just before Uber IPO’d. While that deal made delivery possible at about 64 percent of McDonald’s locations in the U.S., it seemed like only a matter of time before McDonald’s pulled the plug on the exclusivity factor in order to widen its ability to deliver to new markets. (The exclusive partnership was also a point of friction with some of the chain’s franchise operators.)

As a partner, DoorDash is a no-brainer, since the delivery service operates in all 50 U.S. states and, as I seem to be writing ad infinitum these days, is aggressively going after every suburban market in America.

Chris Kempczinski, President of McDonald’s USA, indicated as much in a statement in the press announcement: “Building on the success of McDelivery in the US, we’re excited to make McDelivery accessible to customers on DoorDash, which is available in all 50 states and reaches 80% of Americans, making it even more convenient for our customers to enjoy their favorite McDonald’s menu items on their terms.”

On the restaurant-tech front, two parties have integrated their systems so that DoorDash orders go directly to the McDonald’s POS system, speeding up the order process and (hopefully) making life easier for franchisees and employees working with the platform.

One area the press release didn’t mention but that’s worth keeping an eye on when it comes to McDonald’s news: artificial intelligence. McDonald’s acquired Dynamic Yield earlier this year, and has since implemented its AI tech in drive thrus, with plans to expand that program to kiosks. And not long ago, word got out that McDonald’s has actually been testing deep-frying robots to automated beverage equipment. It’s probably only a matter of time before AI makes its way to delivery, and something like a McDonald’s-DoorDash-Dynamic Yield delivery platform that can improve recommendations and personalize menus for customers doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility.

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