Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy filling up at the gas station. It may be the only pleasure of owning a vehicle in a city as mind-bendingly gridlocked as Toronto. Why do I like it? Because even for someone who knows pathetically little about cars, it's possible to project an air of masculine cool, leaning on the C-pillar, filling the tank, casually scanning the station, the pleasant waft of gasoline fumes about you. Perhaps you nod over there at the guy doing the same. Perhaps he nods back--just dudes pumping gas.
In the old days, before the safety wizards 86ed the handle ratchet lock, the intrepid among us even had to time to pick up the red squeegee, dunk it in blue liquid, and clear the front and rear windscreen of salt and grime. Able to reach across and scrape the whole thing from one side of the car? A mark of true mastery.
Such enjoyments may soon be a thing of the past if two U.S. companies have their way. Husky Energy and Fuelmatics AB recently unveiled a robot they've designed capable of doing the work of pumping the gas for you, while sit in the driver's seat, presumably, and tend to your thoughts.
You could be forgiven for thinking the technology has been adapted from the machines that artificially inseminate cows. Here's how it works: The robot locates locates your fuel filler cap and sucks it open with a suction cup. Then it inserts one of three nozzles down your fuel neck and begins pumping. When the machine senses (by vacuum sensor) your tank is full, it withdraws its nozzle, and you pay your money and go on your way.
First, we need to give this robot a name. Gassy Jack? Sir Pumplington? Those are two meagre assays. Help us out by leaving a better suggestion in the comments, below.
Second, do you think gas-pumping robots are likely to become ubiquitous, like ATMs? Or are they more likely to be high-tech items that never catch on widely, like Roombas or electronic corkscrews?