NASA's Creative Use of Vending Technology

When you think of vending machines, what do you imagine?

Almost everyone knows that after the customer inserts an appropriate amount of cash into any machine, products are automatically dispensed. Whether you're keen to enjoy a soft drink, ice cream, refrigerated sandwich or one of a wide selection of snacks, almost anything is possible. In today's world, vending machines are fairly common and convenient to use. At cinemas and other public venues, they can provide quick access to a much wanted snack or drink, whilst avoiding the queues of a concession stand.

However, the future of the vending machine looks set to change if a recent display by NASA, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is anything to go by. Normally associated with space travel and robotic innovations, they've adapted a vending machine 'with a difference' at their Jet Propulsion Laboratory machine shop.

At their recent annual open house, NASA's scientists delighted the visiting public by displaying and explaining their latest robots and inventions. The inventions on display were impressive. Surprisingly, one particular adaptation that caught the eye of many visitors was their updated vending machine, as people remarked that "they'd never seen anything like it". With no ice cream or snack in sight, people were astonished to see tools and equipment being dispensed as needed. The available items included precision drill bits, saw blades, couplers, and other numerous tools.