DENVER (CBS4)– A technology created in Denver aims to revolutionize the way people order and purchase fast food. Cherry Creek’s Valyant.AI created a software named “Holly” that can take orders in fast food drive thru lines.
The technology is currently being used during breakfast hours at the Good Times location along South Broadway in Denver.
Colorado’s Rob Carpenter, founder of Valyant.AI, said the technology has already grasped the attention of several of the top-five fast food companies in the United States. While the technology is only being used at one location, the promise of the success rate thus far was attractive to many companies.
“We’re the first to bring it to market,” Carpenter told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.
Carpenter’s staff of 14 spent years developing Holly. To assure the ordering process is accurate and quick the staff spent thousands of hours recording orders in different accents and tones.
“The main goal is to make people’s lives easier,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter said the company already received many concerns about the intent of the technology. He said his hope was to not replace jobs. He said the technology simply speeds up the process, and allows humans to prioritize other work obligations during the ordering process.
“What we are seeing on average is a 10-to-25 percent reduction in wait times. So, it is making (customer) lives better,” Carpenter said. “For the employees, they are able to spend all of their time focusing on making the food and processing the payment. And, they don’t have to say, ‘Welcome to’ whatever the restaurant is 700 times during an eight hour shift.”
Currently, humans listen to Holly’s interactions with customers to assure the artificial intelligence accurately takes the order. They have the opportunity to edit the order, or overtake the system, with the simple tap of a screen.
“I like it, because (Holly) is going to take the orders all the time,” said Good Times manager Herlinda Arredondo. “And, she doesn’t call off (work).”
Arredondo said the technology has allowed her to focus her time on preparing meals, cleaning the restauraunt and working the cash register. Before, she had to do all of the prior while also listening to the orders and putting them in to the system.
“When the customer is (at) the window, the order is ready,” Arredondo said.
With the technology only in use since January, the reception from the public has been mixed. Arredondo said many customers enjoyed it. However, with drive thru operations being manned for the past 72 years, she said there were some customers that weren’t ready for the change.
“A lot of customers like (Holly). But, a lot of customers want to talk to a person,” Arredondo said.
Being the first location in the United States to use artificial intelligence in the fast food ordering process, Carpenter said it could take time for customers to adjust to the change. However, with artificial intelligence technology transforming industries across the world, Carpenter said his company had a great opportunity to operate at the forefront of the technology in the food industry.
“We love being a Colorado company. We are really proud about that,” Carpenter said. “Our hope is we become a massive business, and we can employee tens of thousands of people in the future.”
With Holly’s success at the Good Times in Denver, Carpenter said this could just be the tip of the iceberg for his company. He said he intended to keep his company in Colorado, no matter how well the business is elsewhere.
With nearly 50,000 fast food restaurants in the United States, Carpenter said Valyant.AI had an opportunity to pioneer their way through this industry.
While other projects in the works were not able to be released to the public, Valyant.AI hopes to make its presence in restaurants and other consumer-based companies in the decade to come.