Pulling over to fill the tank is considered a necessary evil by most motorists. And it isn’t hard to see why.

Having to break your journey to leave the warmth and comfort of the car, to step out into the wind and rain for several minutes, possibly spilling fuel on the car and yourself in the process, and then eventually to return to the car reeking of petrol – it's arguably one of the least enjoyable parts of motoring.

However, all that might be about to change if two enterprising companies from different corners of the globe have their way.

Canadian fuel company Husky Energy and Swedish fuel system firm Fuelmatics have joined forces and come up with a new, robotic pump attendant.

This new video from the Petroleum Equipment Institute Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, shows how the system works.

As the car pulls up at the pump, a sensor detects the location of its filler flap, and an arm fitted with a suction cup does the job of opening it.

The robotic nozzle then extends into the fuel filler spout itself, and begins fuelling.

When the tank’s full, a vacuum-based sensor shuts the pump off, before the nozzle retracts and the fuel filler flap is closed.

How well the system would work in practise is debatable, given the wide variety of filler flap opening mechanisms.

But if it could be successfully brought to market, its makers reckon it could reduce pumping time by 30 per cent.

What do you think – would you be happy to have your petrol pumped by a machine?

Daljinder Nagra


October 29, 2013