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Protect Your Vending Machine | Don’t Let a Robot Steal From It

Machines may not have risen up to destroy humanity as predicted in films like “The Terminator,” but make no mistake: they are definitely in the process of rising up to steal from our vending machines, with a little help from their human counterparts, too. One enterprising young French citizen has created a bold new type of robot that you should definitely be afraid of if you own, operate or generally depend on vending machines on a daily basis.

The Robot Thief

French YouTube star ioduremetallique has always had an interest in robotics and technology in general, but his recent postings show that he may have finally gone a bit too far. He invented a compact robot that, once inserted into a vending machine through the distribution slot, uses a levitating arm that essentially grabs a can of soda or other items and drops them down the vending machine – completely free of charge. He controls this robot via a gamepad, similar to the way your kids might control their Sony PlayStation.

Before you get too worried, let’s put things into perspective. Based on the sheer amount of time and money that he put into his creation alone, he would have to steal roughly 4,000 sodas (according to the experts at Vice.com) before he even approached any type of return on investment. He has indicated that he mainly started this little project just to see if he could, but the fact that he can is what has many vending machine providers worried.

Vending Machine Solutions

Even though would-be thieves are probably not going to start controlling an army of hugely expensive robots to steal the occasional free soda, it does underscore the importance of vending machine maintenance in general. If a vending machine is allowed to fall into a state of disrepair, it could suddenly be open to exactly this type of loophole. Vending machine repair in general is hugely important, not only to prevent against attacks from these types of robots, but also to close any software-related loopholes that may have been discovered since the machine went online. Inventory control software can also be used to alert you to a problem (like disappearing cans of soda, for example), allowing you to take steps to correct the issue as quickly as possible.

Between protecting your livelihood against people like ioduremetallique and continuing to maintain a high level of service for customers, to say that vending machine maintenance is important is something of an understatement.

Ways to Prevent a Vending Machine From Taking Your Money Without Providing a Product

35586453_lAlmost everyone has lost money in a vending machine. You are thirsty or hungry for a snack and put your money in the slot. You may see a little waver of your item in the vending machine shelf, but it doesn’t drop. Your money is gone and you have nothing to show for it.

You may hit or kick the machine hoping to dislodge your item. You frantically push the coin return hoping to get your money back. Still nothing. All this hammering does is possibly damage the machine. There is also a risk that you can be seriously injured if you happen to dislodge the machine and it falls on you. On the other hand, there may be a way to prevent this frustration from happening again.

Advice to Customers

One secret to receiving your product and not losing your money lies in looking carefully at how the items are loaded in the machine before you make your selection. If the location of your item has one spiral, the front right corner of the package should fit in front of the spiral. If there are two spirals, the item should have both front corners in front of the spiral. If the corners are behind the spirals, the item will not get snatched and dropped into the tray.

Advice to Vending Machine Owners

If you are the owner of a vending machine, your customers may kick and hit and damage your machine when they lose their money and do not get their product. Some may even put an “Out of Order” note on the front of the machine which will lose you revenue as other potential customers walk away and do not buy anything.

Proper loading of the vending machine is vital to its functioning. Your employees or independent contractors who are charged with loading the machines must be sure to put the items in properly so the corners are aligned as they should be. If the loader is sloppy and puts the items in at an angle, your customers will lose their money, not get their product, possibly damage your machine and your vending machine business will lose revenue.