PACIFIC, MO (KTVI)-- If you don`t like getting out of your car to pump gas, then the future looks bright for you. That`s because robotic gas pumps could be around the corner in St. Louis. Husky Corporation (www.husky.com) in Pacific, Mo showed us a robotic pump the company helped developed.
"We already have drive-thru McDonalds, drive-thru banks and drive-thru car washes," said Husky executive Brad Baker. He predicts consumers will be eager to use drive-thru gas pumps. Baker believes the product will be ready for regulatory testing in about nine months.
Baker said Husky partnered with Swedish company, Fuelmatics Systems, to create the pump. Infra-red lights and cameras locate the fuel door. An arm with a suction cup opens the fuel door. A nozzle then extends into the fuel tank and releases the desired amount of fuel. Once the tank is full, the nozzle returns to the pump.
The plan is for consumers to pay and make fuel choice selections on a drive-up screen. Baker compared it to the screens at many automated car washes. He also predicts a phone app will be developed to allow customers to pay from their cell phone. He predicts the product will be popular because it`s quicker than manually pumping gas. Weather is also expected to be a factor.
"I think it`s going to have an appeal in Northern regions, especially where weather is really bad," said Baker.
The pumps cost $50,000 each. Baker predicts station owners would charge more for the convenience. The pumps are compatible with autos without the gas caps that screw off and on. He said consumers with those types of caps can purchase an adapter for about $5.
He predicts the product will be sold to St. Louis area gas stations first and will then spread to other parts of the country. Baker says the product will be manufactured at the company`s plant in Pacific.
The company recently showcased the product at a trade show.
Baker said gas station owners were extremely interested.