Not surprisingly, the biggest challenge was building a hygienic machine. "All of the parts come in contact with the elements," Torghele said. "We had to find technical solutions to guarantee" that the food would be safe.
The patented solutions include a dough mixer that prevents accumulation of material in its drum and in adjoining metering chambers. "He thought of everything," Rammers said. "If the machine doesn't sell a pizza for 24 hours, the timer tells it to mix the dough, and then the machine throws it away in a trash bin."
Like most current day vending machines, the Let's Pizza is Internet-enabled. Using a microcontroller and a multitude of specialized software algorithms, it can read information from its 40 onboard sensors and communicate with the outside world. "When it's almost empty, the machine sends a signal to your phone or your laptop that it needs to be refilled," Rammers said. Each machine holds enough ingredients for about 200 pizzas.
The machine has been available in Europe since 2009. A1 Concepts will set up its first US Let's Pizza in Atlanta in late August. The company is working on a plan for machines to be assembled by an American partner.
Competing machines have used microwaves to heat up frozen pizzas, but Rammers said he wouldn't be surprised if the Let's Pizza's success spawns imitators. "Other people are sure to try to build one after they see this. But right now, this is the only one of its kind."
Of all places to see an update, there was a thread last week on Reddit that had people from around the world talking about the "Let's Pizza" machine. Apparently there are some machines in the USA (I think they said at an amusement park) but most of the feedback was from Europe.
I'd post a link, but I don't want my monitored web history at work to show that I'm browing Reddit during the day.... :)
I have been expecting this type of thing for awhile. Engineers are driven, from the first shovel on, to find ways to ease/eliminate menial tasks. I have noticed fastfood places are seeing an increase in more automated devices.
How soon will we see a burger/fry/drink combo packaged to your order all by machine?
Will you order it from your phone and pick it up in 3-5 minutes?
Will this, to a degree, impact the traditional fast food vendors?
Human nature stives in this direction anyway but with the beneficent govt making every effort to increase the cost of employing real people this will accelerate. IMO.
Of course, the first thing I thought about was spoilage, insects and sanitation. Well, I guess that's a lot of things. But if the ingredients were in single serve containers, this could be mitigated.
I agree with Chris PE's comment about vending machines being in our blood! I remember a vending machine that would actually make a little blow-molded figure right in front of your eyes! Amazing! I still remember the aroma of the warm, waxy plastic they used.
Very interesting pizza vending machine and video. I was wondering if the pizza will be more like what we have in America vs Italy. My daughter said the pizza she had in Italy was different from the US.
Seems like I remember my wife telling me it took 7 minutes in their oven in a take it/bake it store. That was at 700 degrees. So 13 minutes might not be out of line for the whole process.
If you can flour the drum it doesn't stick anywhere near so much, so that may be how they resolve the stickiness issue.
If you heat anything for 7-10 minutes at 700 degrees, it may not be appealing, but there are going to be darn few germs left alive. Most restaurant food poisoning comes from uncooked food or dirty humans handling it.
Where else etc? My first thought was an Army barracks. I think your point about bugs is the key issue. The day after the pizza vendor is installed is the first day a lawsuit will be filed for food poisoning. Cleanliness will always trump anything when it comes to preparing and serving food.
Actually college students SHOULD be very good pizza judges since they probably consume more pizza per year than any other species. My guess is after a few beers they would tend to pick up a piece off the floor and eat it. After all the alcohol in the beer should kill the germs.