Subway Rolls Out Sandwich Vending Machines That You Can Talk To

Ask the interactive 'smart fridges' anything about the sandwiches.

November 15, 2022

Photo by: Photo courtesy of Subway

Photo courtesy of Subway

Will you soon be snagging your favorite Subway sandwich from … a vending machine?

As part of its push to streamline the process of getting its sandwiches into customers’ hands (increasingly emphasizing convenience over customization) and expand availability into “non-traditional” locations, the quick-serve chain has announced that, along with the Subway Grab & Go sandwich spots it has been rolling out in airports, hospitals, convenience stores and truck stops and on college campuses, it is introducing new “smart fridges” stocked with pre-made sandwiches.

“As more of our guests search for dining experiences to meet their ‘in-the-moment’ needs, the brand’s non-traditional locations and platforms can serve them wherever and whenever they are craving Subway,” Taylor Bennett, vice president of non-traditional development at Subway, says in a press release.

Subway Restaurants Grab and Go

Photo by: Photo courtesy of Subway

Photo courtesy of Subway

The chain’s “interactive, fully unattended” smart fridges are, essentially, vending machines that will be stocked daily by nearby Subway locations with fresh sandwiches. Outfitted with artificial intelligence and natural language processing, the smart fridges allow you to talk to them and ask questions about the products inside it (such as, we assume, “What is in that sandwich?”).

The smart fridges offer contact-free, cashless transactions; their weight-sensor shelves ensure you are charged correctly for your sandwich. A UV-C light sanitizes the machine following each purchase.

Initial feedback from Subway’s first smart fridge, which was installed at the University of California San Diego in September, has been “extremely positive, with college students enjoying the convenience and ease of being able to get a sandwich at any time of day,” the brand says, adding that franchisees around the world are interested in deploying smart fridges in their areas.

“Subway Grab & Go has quickly gained traction as consumers are drawn to sandwiches made fresh daily from a brand they know and love, versus competitor items that rely on a 14-day plus shelf life,” Karla Martinez, director of innovation for non-traditional development, says. “As Subway continues to expand off-premises concepts, guests can expect to find Subway Grab & Go and smart fridges in more convenient everyday places like airports, college campuses and hospitals.”

The “sandwich generation” suddenly has a whole new meaning.

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