December 15, 2022
Fast food chain Subway is rolling out smart vending machines that can ‘talk’ to customers and offer them sandwiches.
The company said its “smart fridge” features sandwiches that are made daily and stocked in the vending machine. Using AI and natural language processing, the fridge can answer questions from diners about its products.
Also, shelves with weight sensors ensure customers are charged correctly for what they ordered. The fridge also has a UV-C light for sanitation.
The first smart fridge was installed in the fall at the University of California San Diego. Subway said the initial feedback has been “extremely positive” from college students who can get sandwiches at any time of day or night.
Subway is “seeing strong interest” from its franchisees who want to use the smart fridges.
Subway actually debuted its vending machines in 2020 but these did not have AI. Called Grab & Go, franchisees prepared sandwiches for these machines placed in casinos, convenience stores, hospitals, airports and other locations. There are now more than 400 machines in North America.
The new smart fridges are fully unattended and interactive.
"There is a significant opportunity to expand our footprint in non-traditional locations and for franchisees to generate incremental revenue for their business,” said Taylor Bennett, vice president of non-traditional development at Subway, in a statement.
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