Technology is becoming an increasingly important investment for the fast food chain, especially since it can help improve drive-thru times and labor costs, two areas the company has been working to improve. McDonald's previously said it was testing voice-activated drive-thrus and must have liked the results to pursue an acquisition. It is also testing automated deep-fryers that cut down on labor in the kitchen. With this latest acquisition, McDonald's is securing its place as a tech leader within the fast food space. It previously bought Dynamic Yield for $300 million earlier this year and has since deployed the company's decision technology at the drive-thru at 8,000 restaurants in the U.S. and plans to reach just about all drive-thrus in the U.S. and Australia by the end of the year.
The poor quality of drive-thru ordering may be an old joke (and a staple of comedy movies), but it's also a problem that could benefit from a high-tech overhaul. Machine learning and voice recognition can ease the many pain points of this encounter, contends Denver technology entrepreneur Rob Carpenter, the CEO of Valyant AI. Carpenter's company has developed an artificial intelligence platform that automates fast-food customer service, order-ahead, drive-thru and in-store sales, with technology in development to integrate more directly with point of sale systems. Valyant AI was a recent finalist at a developer program at Visa, and is reportedly in discussions with McDonald's, Walmart and advisors from Yum Brands. Carpenter did not identify his clients, saying the first deployment would come in about four weeks.
We already had a robot that could make fast food burgers. And now we have an artificial intelligence that can take your order for one. Earlier this month, Colorado-based startup Valyant AI announced the launch of a voice-based AI customer service platform, which is now taking customer orders at the drive-thru at Denver's Good Times Burgers and Frozen Custard. "We're excited to deliver a customer service experience unlike anything you've ever experienced before," Valyant AI CEO Rob Carpenter said in a press release. Unlike multipurpose assistants such as Alexa or Siri, Valyant's fast food AI has just one ability: greet drive-thru customers, take their order, and send them down the line.
Valyant AI CEO Rob Carpenter on the use of artificial intelligence technology to improve the restaurant drive-thru experience. Denver based fast food chain, Good Times, is now using an artificial intelligence voice assistant in place of cashiers in their drive-thru service. The restaurant is using an artificial intelligence system created by the company Valyant AI to help the employees manage the restaurant more efficiently. "We're automating one of the task that they do, gives them more face time with the customers at the window, and makes the experience more efficient," Valyant AI Founder and CEO Rob Carpenter told FOX Business' Stuart Varney on Friday. When asked if the software will be used to replace humans, Carpenter said, "It does take task out of the work that sometimes is done by a full time employee. Overall, what we're hoping to do is help make small business owners that own these restaurants more profitable."
Although the idea of "artificial intelligence" has been around since 1956, this seems to be a breakthrough year for AI in the restaurant space. Major players from Chick-fil-A to Chipotle to Domino's have implemented AI in some form or fashion, whether to identify food safety issues, scale up logistics or generate orders via voice assistance. Even some smaller chains are getting on board the AI train. In February, Colorado-based Good Times Burger & Frozen Custard launched its conversational AI platform through a partnership with Valyant AI, for example. Perhaps the biggest breakthrough came when McDonald's adopted the technology.