In the old days, prior to 1972, you would pull into a filling station and a person would come out and greet you. They would ask how much and what type of gasoline you wished to purchase. They would pump your fuel, wash your windshield, check your oil level, and even your coolant level. All this for about 20 cents a gallon.
Then about 1973 was the first “gas crisis”. OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) decided to embargo the oil from the mid-east in order to raise prices. It certainly accomplished that goal, sending prices at the pump skyrocketing to 55 cents or more per gallon.
It had many effects on the US and world economy but there was one effect that stood out in the minds of the big oil companies. They tried self-service gas pumps and discovered that customers would pump their own fuel and pay a higher price.
Then, six years later, as Iran’s government collapsed, history was repeated and gas lines formed once again at the pumps and prices went over 99 cents. That caused gas pumps to be updated so that they could register the higher prices and far more self-service stations replaced conventional service stations.
Only a couple of states, Oregon and New Jersey, won’t allow you to pump your own.
So with the oil companies making higher profits and not having to pay for the labor of a gas pump jockey things continued to change. Credit cards started being used at the pumps and that meant that less and less money was earned by the station owner. Why? Because after paying the merchant fees for each credit card transaction and the price of the fuel itself there were only a couple of pennies profit left over.
That’s why, instead of a service garage being at the same place that you buy your fuel, you now find a “convenience store”. They make their money off your store purchases where the commodities on the shelf offer a real profit.
So now comes a robotic fuel pump so that you don’t even have to leave your vehicle:
Sounds pretty good, eh? It could be, but let’s think about a couple of things that might make it not quite as good.
If you pull up on your motorcycle, forget it. If you have a locking gas door, forget it.
It also requires a gas cap that permits refueling without being taken off.
Now, since the premise is that its cold out and so now you don’t have to expose yourself to the frigid weather, do you think that people will turn their engines off while the robot is filling their tank? Might that be a safety issue?
Will there be a lot of static electricity built up on the vehicle in the winter that might possibly flash a fuel fire? Maybe that is all taken into account.
So some cars will be able to use the robot, but remember who pays for it. The station owner. And its not going to be cheap. We are talking tens of thousands of dollars for a commodity that doesn’t generate much profit.
Isn’t the future great!