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The Rise Of The Machines

by on Jan.29, 2012, under Consumer, Food, History, Technology, Toys

From ancient Greece, when Hero invented a machine to vend holy water in Egyptian temples, to the first English machines that sold postcards and books, and the first vending machines in the United States that dispensed gum, modern automated vendors sell almost any consumer product. People embraced the idea of cheap, fast transactions that eliminated the need for clerks, cashiers, and lines. Merchants love them because they can make money 24 hours a day. Sometimes it seems like you can hardly look around in public without seeing one. You can buy all kinds of food well beyond what the candy, snack, and soft drink vendors have to offer. For a hot meal on the go, there's made on site, fresh baked pizza. If you want to cook your own, but just need a few fresh ingredients, you can buy fresh eggs from a nearby farm. You can even pretend you've spent a day on the water, and fish for your dinner. If it's not food you're looking for, maybe its entertainment. You can buy music by the song. You can buy music in volume. If you're underdressed, there are machines that sell shoes, socks, board shorts, and jeans. There are even vending machines for very specific requirements -- like the one that sells used girls' panties in Japan. The machines, and what they contain, keep getting bigger and bigger.

But nothing else reaches the scale of this new automated product delivery system.

Located in Wolfsburg, Germany, these 200 foot tall glass towers contain the merchandise. Each one holds up to 400 items. Every slot is big enough for a car.

That's what Volkswagen stocks them with. Every day, around 600 people come by to pay for their purchase and get a new car.

The cars are built at an adjacent plant, and transported by conveyer belt to the base of a tower, where they are lifted into position at around 6 feet a second by a robotic arm.

After you've inserted the proper coins, you can watch your car be picked from its slot, and rolled along a track to the Autostadt Customer Center.

When cigarette and beer vending machines were more popular, it was hard to prevent underage people from taking advantage. Wc wonder how Volkswagen will solve the problem when their car vending machines are more widespread.

And what if you don't have the right currency?

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