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Robotics Hardware

Dutch Unveil Robot Gas Station Attendant 287

Posted by kdawson
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.
Lucas123 writes "According to a Reuters' story, Dutch inventors today took the wraps off a $110,000 car-fueling robot they say is the first of its kind. (It was inspired by a cow milking robot.) After registering the car as it pulls up to the pump, the machine matches your fuel cap design with those in a database and your car's fuel type, and then a robotic arm fitted with multiple sensors extends from a regular gas pump, '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.' Wait till Hollywood gets hold of this scenario."
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Dutch Unveil Robot Gas Station Attendant

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  • Once again, I get the strangest sense that Paul Verhoeven somehow foresaw this. Verhoeven worked his way through college in the Netherlands working as a gas-station attendant and would later go on to direct the movie "Robocop." Coincidence? Perhaps not...

    First of all, there are other bizarre coincidences, such as the appearance of a DVD in the movie "Robocop" (ten years before DVD would actually debut), the "President Schwarzenegger" reference in "Total Recall" (long before his political career), the 9-11

    • by rolfwind (528248)
      Schwarzenegger was in Total Recall yet I don't remember that specific reference. I do know that "President Schwarzenegger" was referenced in Demolition Man with Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by c6gunner (950153)
      1) You're comparing a gas-pumping robot to a bad-guy-killing cybernetic police officer? What do you do for an encore, compare the Apollo Module to the USS Enterprise?

      2) You're amazed by the fact that he saw a lazerdisc shrunk it down for his robocop movie? Sorry, I'm not impressed.

      3) You got the movie "Total Recall" confused with "Demolition Man", which was directed by someone else.

      4) 9/11 reference in Star Ship troopers? Are you sure you weren't just on LSD at the time?
      • by Chris Burke (6130)
        2) You're amazed by the fact that he saw a lazerdisc shrunk it down for his robocop movie? Sorry, I'm not impressed.

        I'll tell you what doesn't amaze me -- that the OP has never seen a laser disc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chris Burke (6130)
      the 9-11 satire in "Starship Troopers" (four years before 9-11),

      I assume you're referring to the destruction of Buenos Aires by the "bugs". That was just satire of the politically-fueled patriotic hysteria following any such event, of which 9/11 was just one example of. If it reminded you of 9/11 in hindsight, that's because history doesn't repeat, but it does rhyme.

      Also, that event was in the original book by Heinlein, published in 1959. I doubt he predicted 9/11 over 40 years in advance, unless you mea
  • by BytePusher (209961) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @05:57PM (#22313220) Homepage
    In Indiana, Shell tried a similar robot in my home town. It cost about $100 for a special gas cap and had a huge bay you would drive into. I guess it wasn't too popular, but definitely existed before this.
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @06:50PM (#22314118) Homepage
      $100 for a special cap? someone was overcharging hard.

      you can buy for $12.99 a gas cap that has a flap that allows you to easily fuel the car through the cap.

      uses a standard pump nozzle size, replace the black flap with a reflective one and It's a 2nd year robotics student project to reproduce everything they did. Opening and closing the door is as simple by attaching a gripper stud or refelctive tape.

      Problem is it's far cheaper to let the people use the pump themselves. Why put in a multi thousand dollar robot to do something that people are doing for free. At full service stations the "attendant" is paid minimum wage as it's not a skilled job. I can pay the wages of a gas pump attendant for 10 years for the price of one gas pumping robot.

      • by owlstead (636356)
        "I can pay the wages of a gas pump attendant for 10 years for the price of one gas pumping robot."

        Yes, and the pump attendant will be there 24/7? So you might need about 4 pump attendants, and hope they don't get ill. Not that I am necessarily in favor of robots like these, but there seems to be something wrong with your calculations. And, come to think of it, your wages.
      • Like so many you obviously never employed anyone. This is NOT just a case of paying minimum wage for ONE person.

        The robot for the stated amount of money will work 24/7 365 days a year. Never sick, never late, never rude. He makes no demands, has no ambitions to better himself, doesn't demand promotions, doesn't get a higher wage as he gets older. Remmeber this is a DUTCH story, we actually give minimum wage workers a minimum wage they can live on.

        The robot doesn't demand overtime, has no holidays.

        The rob

  • My first thought is that this development is just the latest incremental improvement in robotics, and will help pave the way for more useful robotic applications.

    Then I remembered a trip through the state of Oregon. As of ten years ago or so travelers were not permitted to pump their own gas. I don't know if this is still the case, or why it was the case in the first place, but these robots might actually have an application if there are many places with laws on the books requiring certified entities to d
    • Oregon and New Jersey don't allow you pump your own. The supposed rationale is that, as you speculated, only qualified people are allowed to pump gas. The true reason, however, is featherbedding (i.e. creating jobs). Replacing those guys with a robot won't really solve that problem...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by uniquename72 (1169497)
        I ride a motorcycle. Does this mean that if I get gas in NJ or Oregon, I have a big, sweaty guy reaching in between my legs to fill me?

        If so, I'm there!
    • It has nothing to do with safety. It has to do with the deluded belief that creating busy work for people to do is a good thing for everyone concerned.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by veganboyjosh (896761)
      I lived in Portland for about 9 months a few years ago. Had a job delivering food, actually.

      The gas wasn't noticeably more expensive, and it sure was nice not having to get out of the car to fill up.

      I believe New Jersey also has/had a similar policy of not allowing motorists to pump their own gas. It's my understanding that by requiring gas stations to provide at least one gas pump attendant, it keeps at least one person per station employed above and beyond what they would in any other state. Consider
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        ...sure was nice not having to get out of the car to fill up...

        Sure is safer, too. That stuf is toxic as well as having a lot of energy density for a liquid. Just a little bit of training -- a tiny bit, really -- is all you need to keep people from exposure to hot plasma or a lot of strange molecules that the monkey in you never learned to deal with. You or I may know intuitively what to do, but the non-Slashdot crowd is pretty immense and prone to errors in mundane day-to-day engineering processes such

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Gutboy (587531)
        I still live in Oregon, and have (off and on) for 17+ years. A long time ago, there was a ballot measure to allow anyone to pump their own gas, with the idea that it would make for cheaper gas. It was defeated by people running advertisements that said, basically, 'do you want to have gas on your hands before you go eat food?' I guess being 'back to nature' means people here haven't learned how to bathe (and if you head downtown, you'll see lots of examples).
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      Sitting in SE Portland right now, I can tell you that the State believes that I'm not qualified to safely transfer fuel into my own vehicle. However, if I drive north of the Columbia, East of the Snake, or south of the Siskyiou Mountains, I somehow develop this ability... only to lose it again once traversing back.
    • by netsavior (627338)
      burn karma burn.

      I had the unfortunate experience of being stuck in the pit of the Pacific North West for like 3 months on a contract. One of the funniest things to watch is all of the Oregon idiots trying to pump gas in Washington. The best was a group of like 17 year olds that were trying to figure it out by committee and eventually drove off with no gas.
  • Hmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by Sta7ic (819090) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @05:59PM (#22313232)
    [whirrrr-click] Target identified. Model recognized as Homer J. Simpson. Preparing doughnut tube.
    [whirrrr-click] Target identified. Model recognized as College Student. Preparing beer tube.
    [whirrrr-click] Target identified. Model recognized as Slashdot Visitor. Preparing "In Mother Russia" meme-milk and "Cowboy Neal" flakes.
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @05:59PM (#22313238) Homepage Journal
    and I can't understand how other people handle not locking their fuel flap. You lock your car, which is covered by insurance, but you leave the fuel for the taking? Thankfully, I've yet to see a film where someone turns a car into a Molotov cocktail by inserting a rag into the fuel cap and lighting it up.. thankfully, because kids have a thing for emulating what they see in films.

    My fuel flag does have the means to be opened from inside the car.. so I guess I could just do that when approaching Sir-Pumps-A-lot.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      I just live in a decent neighborhood.
      The day I feel I need to lock up is the day I start looking for a new house.

      Not that a lock would actually stop someone.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by QuantumG (50515)
        That's a retarded view of security, for which you should be ashamed.
      • Full Metal Jacket
        Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: [after discovering Private Pyle's unlocked footlocker] Jesus H Christ. Private Pyle, why is your footlocker unlocked?
        Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, I don't know, sir.
        Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Private Pyle, if there is one thing in this world that I hate, it is an unlocked footlocker! You know that don't you?
        Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, yes, sir.
        Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: If it wasn't for dickheads like you, there wouldn't be any thievery in this world, would there?
        Private Gom
      • Do you always park in a decent neighbourhood?
    • by Culture20 (968837)
      You'd really only get scorch marks on your car. Since the fuel is only flammable in vapor-form with oxygen, you'd just get a car-sized kerosene lamp (with the burning rag acting as a wick).
      A friend once had an engine-fire, and when the fire department arrived, they just calmly walked over to the car, and unscrewed the fuel cap. They explained that the fuel would evaporate safely, and his car would remain intact.
    • I drive a Diesel powered vehicle. Most "fuel thieves" are looking for gasoline, and those that want diesel fuel are more likely going to look for much larger quantities of it (large trucks). (Yes, go ahead and draw your paralleling analogy of "Security through Obscurity")

      That aside, the last local outbreak of vehicle fuel thefts were committed by drilling a hole into the bottom of fuel tank and capturing the gas in several low-profile containers rotated out for collection. Unless you have something armo

  • Residents of New Jersey and Oregon are thrilled by this latest development. Finally, a way to fuel up without rolling down the window.
    • Or waiting for some minimum-wage paid douche to get off his ass and actually come over and do his job...

      (Note, not all douches are paid minimum wage, and not all people earning minimum wage are douches, but the two go hand in hand when I'm sitting there unable to do what the law mandates they do for me.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @06:02PM (#22313284)
    to check your tire pressure. Just saying.
  • by Tribbin (565963)
    Will it open my door and take the key out of my pocket?
    • If a robot has a mechanical claw in your pocket, you had better *hope* it's the key it comes away with.

    • by geekoid (135745)
      Nope, you can still get out in the rain and snow and pump your won, enjoy the smell.

      Not valid for residents of New Jersey or Oregon. Personally, I love not pumping my gas.
  • Novelty Act (Score:4, Insightful)

    by milsoRgen (1016505) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @06:04PM (#22313312) Homepage
    Now this is were automation really is handy dandy stuff. But actual merits aside, if it were to ever be used in the US it would be a novelty. People would bitch and complain...

    I grew up in Oregon. A state that requires an attendent to pump your gas. I worked at a texaco one summer. There were 3 distinct positions on the issue:

    1. Out of staters: Oh my god wow, it's really illegal for me to pump my own gas? Why thank you keep the change.
    2. The in towners: Hurry the fuck up kid and please get my side windows.
    3. The drive up politicians: Don't you see how this is hurting the very business you work for by requring man power for a job the costumer could do themselves. (My reply: dude I'm just here for the beer money)

    So yeah I see the same thing to varying degrees happening at the pump (if this were to ever become a substantial choice for gas station owners here in the states)... Which would just be a rehash of the old auto workers complaints I can remember from as far back as grade school. Our science text books had these odd placed "Look to the future" sections. One of which was about robotics, and how there was a concern it would replace jobs with out creating... yadda yadda yadda Seemed like a pro union slant to me even then. (tho for the record I am pro union)

    All that aside. I think it would be cool to have a robot doing this. I've worked in gas stations outside of Oregon here and there. Where people could do their own fueling, the amount of gas people slopped all over themselves, their car or the ground was substantial... and they always wanted a refund!
    • by Idaho (12907)

      I grew up in Oregon. A state that requires an attendent to pump your gas.

      The article talks about the Netherlands though. I have *never* seen gas stations where an attendant actually pumps the gas in all of Europe. I'd go as far as to say that many Europeans, when asked, would find the very idea to be ludicrous (once you have explained it to them).

      In fact, it goes even further - it's very common to have completely "unattended" gas stations, i.e. you authorize the payment by credit card/electronic bank transfer using a PIN, and then the amount you actually take to fill up the tan

      • The article talks about the Netherlands though.

        I realize that I was simply relating my experiance in the fueling industry here in the states to the article.

        I'd go as far as to say that many Europeans, when asked, would find the very idea to be ludicrous (once you have explained it to them).

        And the same can be said here in the US. I'm in Nampa, ID 30-40 mins from the border of Oregon, and even here it boggles peoples minds when it comes up through the course of a conversation.

        In fact, it goes even further - it's very common to have completely "unattended" gas stations

        I'm sure there are differences you failed to clarify but that sounds a lot like any gas station outside of Walmart or Fred Meyers here in the Northwest US. A guy sits in a booth and takes your dollars or you

    • by vimh42 (981236)
      I was in Oregon a few years ago. Forgot about the whole gas pump thing and started to pump my gas. The attendant ran up and said something along the lines of "Sir only a trained gas pump attendant can pump gas." I apologized saying that I was from California where we pump our own gas. I guess he thought he should respond and reiterated the whole trained gas pumper thing. I told him how many years I had been driving and pumping my own gas and asked him how long he had been working at the gas station. He mumb
    • by Chris Burke (6130)
      3. The drive up politicians: Don't you see how this is hurting the very business you work for by requring man power for a job the costumer could do themselves. (My reply: dude I'm just here for the beer money)

      Lol, that's hilarious! What the fuck did they think you were going to say? "You're right, sir. I will happily volunteer for unemployment in order to aid the financial prosperity of a business I wouldn't give the tiniest flying fuck about except that they pay me to work here."

      I lived in Oregon as a n
  • by sam_paris (919837) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @06:05PM (#22313330)
    Hey guys,

    i'm actually writing this from my iphone, while in my car, while one of these new robots fills up my volvo. I don't know why you guys are tagging this "whatcouldpossiblygowrong", it seems well engineered and apparently efficient. The only problem I can foresee would be some sort of short circuit which could produce a spark and ##KR2F@F@$F$ {NO CARRIER}
    • Seriously, something has already gone wrong whoever is putting that tag on everything.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sam_paris (919837)
        Well, it's become a new meme to tag anything that remotely sounds dangerous with that particular tag... at first it was funny.. it's a little tiresome now.
  • What will gas station attendants do when this replaces them? Go work at a fast food place? great, but in 5 years when they 'iBurgerFlipper' replaces them then what?

    The idea that the jobs market loss in one are creates more jobs another is not always true.

    Espcially when you consider global scales of volume. If McDonalds can displace 2 owrkers with a 110,000 robot, you bet they would.

    And who do you think will build the robots? that's right, other robots. While it will create new industries, it can not create
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Osurak (1013927)
      Marshall Brain already thought of that. Check out his short story, Manna [marshallbrain.com]
    • by vertinox (846076) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @06:16PM (#22313522)
      What will gas station attendants do when this replaces them? Go work at a fast food place? great, but in 5 years when they 'iBurgerFlipper' replaces them then what?

      I dunno... I suppose they will do the same thing as the textile loomers did after the industrial revolution in the 1800s.

      IMO if your job can be replaced by a machine, it probaly was boring.
      • by Kjella (173770)

        IMO if your job can be replaced by a machine, it probaly was boring.

        So's my job, even though it can't be replaced by a robot ;). But there's a lot of people that just want to get through the day with a decent paycheck, that really aren't cut out to be rocket scientists. The defintion of "unskilled labor" has gone a looooooooong way from when that meant things like being a farm hand cutting hay, chopping lumber or whatever. You can't really compare when such jobs first went and when the last ones are going away. Sure there'll still be burger flippers and taxi drivers and st

    • In a similar light, the entire industrial revolution must have been a disaster for people too, right? How about the invention of farming?
    • by Culture20 (968837)

      If McDonalds can displace 2 owrkers with a 110,000 robot, you bet they would.

      I'm assuming that's US$110,000, in which case I'd disagree. McDonald's employees aren't payed more than US$55,000, and even if they were, I'd rather have two versatile human employees than one static robot (unless it's a giant transforming Ronald McDonald, 'cause that'd be neat).
    • I haven't seen one since I was 6. As far as I know they only exist in New Jersey, where its illegal to pump your own gas. But good thoughts otherwise. Are attendants more common in Europe or other parts of the world beyond the Midwest of the United States?
    • by Sciros (986030) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @06:27PM (#22313724) Journal
      The gas station attendants will likely get work as "gas station robot maintenance dudes" that fix robots which, you know, go bad. And you know they will. Let's consider some likely scenarios:

      1) Robot claws open rear passenger door thinking it's a gas cap cover and shoves nozzle down whoever's strapped in.

      2) Robot decides you have a 2007 model instead of 2008 and destroys your gas cap because they way it opens has been changed

      3) Robot beats you up and drives off in your car

      4) Robot doesn't know the "3 clicks" rule and keeps screwing your gas cap back on for all eternity

      5) Robot is racist and doesn't service some people

      6) Robot sees a Lamborghini pull up and tries to mate with it, costing the gas station around $400,000

      These are all nightmare scenarios that are all too possible if the robots aren't maintained. We'll need people to do this. No way I'd trust other robots!
    • Or maybe not allow corporations to own robots, and only let people own 1 robot. One which can either work in place of you and you get a paycheck from that.

      Right, because societies that have fought progress have traditionally done better than those that haven't.

      If robots can replace all the non creative jobs, perhaps it will be time for a form of socialism

      We're so far away from this it's not even funny. If we can't make an AI that can beat a competent Go player, how are we supposed to create an AI that can properly handle local ad campaigns, program other software with vague parameters, design a more productive model of robot, etc? You're looking at something that will take decades at least to come around. Humans are versatile to the extreme, able to r

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @06:07PM (#22313364)
    Suppose that this robot works perfectly every time without hassling the customers, damaging their vehicles, wasting their time, or generally causing other problems which cost the gas station owner money (a big assumption). From the standpoint of the gas station owner why invest in this robot when your customers already pump their own gas at no additional cost to you? I can think of only three (3) possibilities. First, if your competitors install this robot AND enough of your customers refuse to gas up at your station because you DO NOT have the robot then it might make sense provided that the margin (thin already for independent station owners) is able to support the cost which brings up the next point. Second, your customers are willing to pay more for their gas for the novelty OR the convenience of having a robot pump it for them (perhaps, but certainly a niche. Most people are very price sensitive when it comes to buying gas, driving miles out of their way to save a couple of pennies in some cases). Third, the local laws require a human attendant anyway (Oregon has this type of law) where the present value of the gas station attendant's wages in perpetuity are more than the costs of purchasing and maintaining the robot (provided that the initial assumption about damage to property and persons remains true). In any case it is highly likely that this robot will not be widely used or fill only niche markets because it is a cost center for the gas station owner and not likely to be or become a profit center. At best, it might become a requirement of doing business, but I cannot see many gas station owners installing and using the robot unless they are forced to by either the marketplace or the government.
    • by vertinox (846076)
      OR the convenience of having a robot pump it for them

      I've always thought Belgium's and Holland's climate was mild, but there has been days in the NE USA when it was -20 in wind chill factor in which I would have gladly choose a gas station with a robot over one that did not. I remember seeing this way back for development for some Scandinavian country so that people didn't have stand around in sub zero temperatures pumping gas.

      Also... In strange places like New Jersey, the state government has made it illeg
    • Fourth, they can do it faster. Since people don't need to get out of their vehicles, it could save time at the pump, especially if mixed with a program where you don't have to present your credit card every time. If the robots have a high enough reliability, they can also push the gas through the nozzle faster. During rush hour this would be very useful, since I've seen cars line up at plenty of gas stations.
    • by djupedal (584558)
      I vote we just put barrels of gas out in the open, and customers can ladle it into buckets in the trunks of their cars. Think of the cost station owners would save on pumping it out of the ground! Just put a monkey out on the street and drivers would throw quarters into a cup. Why have any safety systems at all!
  • So, how soon until we find out that gas-pumping robots, too, can die in freak, gasoline-fight accidents?
  • I know its not exactly a serious workout, but jesus, are people too lazy to do this themselves? Frankly I enjoy getting OUT of the car and stretching my legs, its never exactly a major chore.
    • by vux984 (928602)
      Have you ever been to the prairies?

      Evidently you don't live in a part of the world where it drops to 40 below... and then gets windy. Where getting punched in the face would be more pleasant than standing still and holding a frigid hose next to your car for 5 minutes. Where you have to put gloves, hats, and scarves on, just to get out of your car that long without freezing bits.

    • by aberkvam (109205)
      I am betting that you live closer to the equator than I do. Sure, on a balmy summer evening it can be pleasant to pump one's own gas. But when that -40 wind chill kicks up from across the icy lake, I would gladly pay a few extra pennies to have a robot do the pumping. (Of course, the robot would have an OUT OF ORDER sign on it because of the extreme cold...)
    • If only there weren't two states that didn't allow you to pump your own gas [nwsource.com].

      However, don't let that get in the way of your straw man argument.
  • ...when the Autobahn gas stations got robot-cleaned toilet seats, this couldn't be far behind.

    rj
    • by sootman (158191)
      If they work as well as this one, [cabel.name] then I, for one, will not be welcoming my new robot overlords.

      PS: my truck (1993 Toyota pickup) requires an actual key to open the flap. (A bit of a pain compared the the little lever under the driver's seat of most cars (plus the cap is on the passenger side) but hey, at least I've never locked my keys inside at the gas station!) I'm not sure how these robots will deal with that. Maybe the first one will slice off the flap with an acetylene torch?
  • The article is light on details. What does the robot do with the cap while it's pumping? My car for instance has a tether so you can't lose the cap. This would prevent the robot from taking it in it's possesion while it pumped fuel. Most fuel caps don't have this tether so they would have to be held on to. How does the Robot figure this out?
  • My first job out of high school was working at a gas station. Some lady drove off while the hose was still in her car. It ripped the hose right off the pump, which started spewing gasoline everywhere.

    Fortunately, being a full-serve station, I was nearby and able to shut off the pump before we went up in a mushroom cloud. But what if there was no human attendant?

    • by adavidw (31941)

      But what if there was no human attendant?

      Most likely nothing would happen, since the pump would surely have the breakaway hoses [benfordfueling.com] that most pumps have nowadays. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that there are state or local laws requiring their installation when there's not an attendant on site.
  • What's the point of automating a task that is not time consuming, is easy, isn't repetitive (except maybe for gaz guzzling huge SUVs that must be re-filled every couple of miles) and perfectly safe when done by humans. Better, the human are even more precise and don't require a database of known models to locate the cap. They just find it. (And are less likely to scratch the car while attempting to ram the fuel hose into a location where the cap is supposed to be on another different mis-recognized model).

    A
  • Not to spoil your party, but the robot is for people with disabilities who drive their car but have a hard time getting out alone. Like when you need to pump your own gas.
  • I think the adult toy business has already gone down this path :)
  • I guess it picks whichever type of gas is best for your car, but some cars will run just as well on different types of octane, and some people (usually mistakenly) like to 'treat' their car to a higher octane.
    Also, at over $100k, I don't think it will be an instant hit. It was hard enough for most stations to justify putting in the car swipe systems on the pump. Mostly because of lost revenue on impulse buys inside, but this robot would be even worse. The person wouldn't even have to leave the car, so he
  • by robertjw (728654) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @06:58PM (#22314248) Homepage
    This might be an OK idea for cars, but what happens when I need to fill my lawn mower, a gas can, an ATV on a trailer, motorcycle, etc...

    Seems like there are a large number of situations when this wouldn't work. Will the robot replace all pumps? Will there be special pumps for when the robot doesn't work? Will gas for my lawn mower get more expensive since I have to drive across town to find a station that can actually put gas in a can?
  • Where I am from gas tanks either have to be unlocked with the key or with a switch inside the vehikle.

    Is that not the general case?

    Both the switch and the key could be solved with driver-robot interaction, but with the key that sounds vastly impractical.
  • ... a robotic flame-thrower robot!
  • Bobby Ray Earle of Wichita unveiled a new automated vehicle fueling system today.

    "It's a very sophisticated system," said Earle. "Our customers will be very happy not to have to pump their own gas."

    When a car pulls up, the system immediately registers the make and model of the car and locates the fuel cap using two visual sensors. The system then extends its sensory touch system to open the flap, unscrew the cap, and direct the fuel nozzle towards the tank opening.

    The cost for the fueling system is minimal
  • Pump 5 is alive!! Need input. Need input.
  • by Chrisje (471362) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @07:07AM (#22319078)
    My hometown, Emmeloord, the Netherlands, is one of the sleepiest places on the earth. Initially it was a farming community. It was ocean until 1920 when the dyke was built to close the part of the ocean to form a brackish lake, and then in 1941 the area was mad into land just prior to the Germans invading the country. From the fifties, there was a boom of Farmers from Zeeland fleeing the south after the flooding of '53 which killed 5000+ people. My mother was one of those.

    This town is populated with earthy farm folk. There is nothing to do. On any given Sunday you can fire guns downtown without anyone even hearing them. The streets are empty on Sundays. When I went to high school, 16 year old boys took their John Deeres and Massey Fergusons to school. The first thing I ever learnt how to drive was a small Massey Fergusson tractor from the late forties. The second thing I learnt how to drive was a fork lift.

    Nico van Staveren was a long-time friend of my fathers. My father is now dead and gone, but to see Nico come up with this stuff is just more than bizarre. Figure my bewilderment of finding a story on /. about my home town, one of the least likely to be in the news places on the planet.

    The only thing I wonder about is what this will mean to anyone with a Toyota or Mazda that happens to pull into the robotic pump. Like my townsman so aptly commented "Why not, but I hope they're insured well". :-D :-D

    This really made my day. It brought tears to my eyes as I'm reading this in my living room in Haifa, Israel.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein

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