As seen through the rearview mirror - Robotic arm opens the fuel flap, unscrews cap, inserts nozzle, and fuels car ... all without the driver having to leave the car. Image Credit: Rotec Engineering BV
Filling Stations To Become Service Stations, Again!
It has been a long time, but there was a time (in the 1950's through to some of the 1970's) that when one pulled into a "gas station" to fill up, an attendant with a hat and a bowtie would ask the driver for the order selection, open the fueling door to the car, and stick the nozzle in to fill the car with fuel. The attendant would then make sure the windshield was clean, the tires were at the proper operating pressure, and inspect under the hood all other fluid levels, top off the fill up order, accept payment from the driver from the drivers side window (that's right, the driver never moved from the car) and off one went on down the road, confident the car was full of gas and in good working order.
Ahhhhh, the age of the "Service Station" here on the Oblate Spheroid.
The Tankpitstop as it appears at a Shell station fueling island. Image Credit: Rotec Engineering BV
Well, this age of full service is about to make a comeback. Here is a technology approach that, if perfected, could begin the conversion of the work performed by the customer/driver to a robotic process. This technology would allow filling stations to call themselves "Service Stations" once again.
A trip to the gas station of the future may no longer require the driver to leave the car. Tankpitstop the Robot will do it all for you. Video Credit: Copyright 2008 KahawaFilm (www.kahawa.nl)
This excerpted from Reuters -
Dutch unveil robot to fill car gas tank
Reporting by Alexandra Hudson, editing by Ralph Boulton - Reuters (EMMELOORD, Netherlands) - Mon Feb 4, 2008 - 11:25am EST
Dutch inventors unveiled on Monday a 75,000 euro ($111,100) car-fuelling robot they say is the first of its kind, working by registering the car on arrival at the filling station and matching it to a database of fuel cap designs and fuel types.
The Tankpitstop robotic arm as it inserts the fueling nozzel for a fill up at a neighborhood Shell station. Image Credit: Rotec Engineering BV
A robotic arm fitted with multiple sensors extends from a regular gas pump, carefully opens the car's flap, unscrews the cap, picks up the fuel nozzle and directs it towards the tank opening, much as a human arm would, and as efficiently.
"I was on a farm and I saw a robotic arm milking a cow. If a robot can do that then why can't it fill a car tank, I thought," said developer and petrol station operator Nico van Staveren. "Drivers needn't get dirty hands or smell of petrol again."
He hopes to introduce the "Tankpitstop" robot in a handful of Dutch stations by the end of the year.
Asked whether he would trust his car to a robotic garage attendant, Jelger De Kroon, filling his black Alfa Romeo at a nearby gas station, said:
"Why not? I guess I could keep my hands free and clean, but I'd hope they have good insurance."
This may only be the beginning ... why not have robots clean the windshield, check the tires, and look under the hood?
Now, If only we can get these bots to sport a cap and a wear a bowtie, the transformation would be complete!
(ht: ... notes from The EDJE)