back to article Dutch fire up petrol-pumping robot

The indolent Dutch may come to rue the day they ever heard the name of Nico van Staveren, petrol station operator and co-developer of a gas-pumping robot which can allegedly recognise your make of car, whip off the petrol cap and deliver the required amount of combustible. The TankPitstop in action Reuters has quite correctly …


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  1. Tim

    What about the cow?

    To be honest I was more concerned with "I was on a farm and I saw a robotic arm milking a cow. "

    This represents a direct machine-carbon life form symbiotic interface which has sneaked through under the radar.

    OK so the cows may feel some relief from said machine but where will it end?

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Ian Fleming would be rolling

    in his grave as copyright infraction is now in effect Mr. Bond. shame it doesn't know where Ursula Undress needs her fuel put however :)

  3. James Pickett


    My car's filler is on the other side...

  4. James Pickett


    This database - so much simpler to choose your make, model and year of car from a huge list than to remove the filler cap yourself, or does it actually recognise the car, or (shudder) link back to the police files?

    No, just let me do it, thanks...

  5. Ste Mansfield
    Paris Hilton

    can we trust the dutch....

    ....not to abuse this as another sexually pleasuring device. I'm sure it won't be long before it's true usage will be brought to the foreground.

  6. Bayleaf

    Type of fuel

    How does the robot know whether to use diesel or petrol?

  7. Paul R
    Paris Hilton


    So, how does it know what fuel a car takes? Plenty of cars have an option petrol or diesel with no obvious external difference. What does the machine do if it fails to recognise a car model? What if you pull up with the filler cap on the wrong side?

    Woe betide the unfortunate driver who mistakenly bends over near this thing when it's trying to insert the fuel nozzle!

    PH, because I'm sure she needs help with pumping! :)

  8. Chizo Ejindu
    Black Helicopters

    RoTLM (Rise of The Lumbering Machines)

    Wow its so impressively.... slow. When you're in a rush i'm sure watching this huge robotic arm slowly trundle its way through its programmed routines won't cause undue annoyance :P

  9. Mark

    What if it all goes wrong?

    What if the "carbon based life form" in the robot dispatch warehouse got it wrong?

    God help the poor sod who lights up a fag anywhere near the back end of a cow!

  10. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    What about the guy....

    who modded his car to fit a compact gas turbine, and requires kerosene?

    I was told it was always a laugh to ask some unsuspecting mechanic to look at the engine becaus eit was making a strange noise. The general reaction was to freeze completely upon seeing the engine, probably whilst various visual-subsystems of the mechanic's brain were rebooting.

  11. Ralph B

    Make my day, punk

    Could have done with one of these on several occasions when I've had a rental or a loaner and had no idea myself where the fuel goes. (I remember one hiding behind the numberplate).

    But what'll they do with the n-variations of internal switches, catches, levers etc needed to release the external fuel aperture? I picture a scene with RoboPump announcing "Open your fuel cap. You have ten seconds to comply."

  12. Karl Lattimer

    They really over did it...

    Wonder how much research it took to get a database built for all supported cars...

    Such a waste of work, when surely constructing a neural network to do a sort of fuzzy "well it must be like this" sort of evaluation followed by an attempt, training a neural network would have taken far less work and would probably have given them better results in the end.

  13. Bob Gulien


    Turn your car around....

  14. TeeCee Gold badge
    Dead Vulture

    Locking fuel caps?

    Actually, these days the vast majority of vehicles have a locking flap either operated from inside the vehicle or unlocked with the rest of the car. Since it has a database of cars, presumably it's smart enough to ask you to pull the appropriate lever to release the thing on arrival if necessary.

    Some older vehicles sport a key locked cap. I reckon that your 95 / 5% split as described is within spit of the opposite of the current situation though.

  15. Spender

    master locksmith?

    my 10 year old car has a fantastic pair of devices associated with the petrol cap called lock and key. take note that the link to the video seems to show a cheap replacement petrol cap that were all the rage in the days when it was possible to leave your petrol cap on the roof of the car and drive off. In fact the chief benefit of the lock/key combo is that it prevents this from happening, as your keys remain attached to the cap, which makes forgetting to replace the cap near-on impossible to achieve. Are we to believe that the robot is also a master locksmith, and it is simply the modesty of manufacturer that stops him proclaiming this far greater technical achievment?

  16. Steve Evans


    Gotta love the 1970's porn movie soundtrack!

    "What is it doing with that nossil?!"

    I hope it has some kind of visual correction for the database, or can we look forward to every chav car that's been dropped on the deck getting it's rear quarter window punched out and the back seat covered in petrol?

    Now I'd pay to see that!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: can we trust the dutch...

    "....not to abuse this as another sexually pleasuring device. I'm sure it won't be long before it's true usage will be brought to the foreground."

    I think they already are planning on that, if you read the first line of Dutch on the web site it promises that "de TankPitstop kunt bekijken." Given that the "j" is silent in that last word ...

  18. Darko Dojin

    This is the picture of the robitic petrol pump internals....

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I just parked the car there to pop in the shop and get a snack, I never asked for a fill up!

    No, I am not gonna give you £50 for something I didn't want in the 1st place!

  20. lansalot

    ah ha ...

    >To be honest I was more concerned with "I was on a farm and I saw a robotic arm milking a cow. "


    Reminds me of an old Emo Philips gag...

    (to be read while wriggling about uncomfortably on a chair, waving arms around and pulilng your own hair).

    I was on the farm the other day, and my father said "Emo, go milk those cows". I came back later and he asked "How did you get on?", and I replied: "The one with the horns nearly killed me!!". He said, "You idiot Emo - that was the bull!!"

    So, now I'm not feeling so bad I only got half a cup...

  21. Martin


    Is the biggest question that comes to mind. I can't forsee that or any robot being faster than a dedicated and experienced motorist, and as for hands smelling of petrol;

    1: Don't spill petrol on your hands

    2: Real men like the smell of petrol

  22. Randolf McKinley

    75000 Euros?

    You could pay a human pump attendant for about 3 years with that. What's more, a pump attendant could deal with at least 3 or 4 pumps at once. SO with the money you save you could pay for the attendant for about 12 years. How long is the ShitStop thing going to last?

  23. Dave

    This puts an end.. all the harmless, fun gasoline fights we all know & love.

    </blue steel>

  24. Tim Russell

    Petrol or Diesel.. answer

    All road legal Dutch cars are registered in the RDW (DVLA) database. This database is openly available and the fuel type for all registered vehicles can be looked up. I am interested to know however if it can tank foreign cars, if indeed it does use the number plate to identify fuel sort.

    Link: (Use 56-NR-KK as example)

    PS: I'll be heading out there this weekend to give it a go, photos will be posted... somewhere!

  25. cor
    Thumb Down

    Trust the Dutch with refuelling?

    One name:

    Jos Verstappen


    "Outside of the Netherlands, probably the most widely remembered moment in Grands Prix involving Jos Verstappen is the infamous refuelling fire at Hockenheim, in 1994. Happily, the incident was an atypical occurrence, but in many ways his changing fortunes in that German Grand Prix weekend sum up the Dutchman's F1 career. Whilst having the potential and ability to do really well, he has somehow failed to actually net the expected results, and a good competitive opening has been consistently hard to find."

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1956 Cadillac

    I want to see it put gasoline/petrol in one of those.

  27. Tim Russell

    We miss the real point....

    ....if this works the EU will be standardising the location, form, size etc of all petrol caps.

    Some idiot in the EU will probably already be formulating reports to demonstarte that people are inherently stupid and must not be trusted with flammable substances!

    Leave it to the robots? I think not.

  28. Ian Ferguson

    I ride a motorbike

    and I'm not going anywhere near that, no matter how much I like robots!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It pulls off the cap, shoves in a nozzle and fills it.......

    I have got a motorbike..

    What will it do ?

    and will I like it ?

    and is that illegal ?

  30. Anonymous Coward

    What a shame...

    ... That the winner of the Darwin Awards '07 died before he could mod one of these babies.

  31. Richard Bos

    Fancy seeing that here

    Heh... this is in my home town.

    And yeah, it's probably not going to make a lot of money. Then again, knowing the guy who did this (which I don't, really, except by reputation), he doesn't need a lot more money. He probably did it because he thinks it's a cool idea. Which it might have been, if it hadn't had so many ifs and buts. As for unknown cars, I gather you need to register to be able to use it, so that, at least, should not be a problem. Never mind; I wouldn't be going there anyway, since it's out of my way.

    Oh, and no, the 'j' in "bekijken" is not silent, never mind that I have no idea what "bekiken" would be supposed to be if it were.

    Oh, and yes, that stunt of Verstappen is his best known in the Netherlands, as well. Apart from that, he's mostly famous for usually finishing DNF.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    They stole this idea ...

    I am sure they got this idea, not from the farm, but from watching the A*se Electronica Expo (as featured on The Reg)

    ps I am too lazy to look up the link, thats what the search function is there for


  33. Alan Jenney

    How is this any different to trusting the automatic car wash?

    All these alarmist comments about not trusting a robot arm to find a hole to fill! Most people who own a car are willing to trust an automatic car wash, for example to use it's circular brushes at ground level to do your wheels and not your sills. All that is achieved without some database of cars to cross-reference!

    Although, I have to admit to holding my breath on ocassions when that half-ton gantry of cross-beams starts lumbering towards my car menacingly, hoping it's not going to thrust the blower nozzle through my windscreen.

    On the other hand, it's great to see a ROTM story - it's been quiet for a few months. Maybe they were trying to lull us into a false sense of security.

  34. Rob
    Thumb Down

    At what point...

    Apart from all the other problems mentioned above... at what point are they thinking it might be a good idea to actually INTEGRATE the fuel pump into the actual robot's arm, instead of it having to go and pick up the same one a human would... talk about as slow as hell..

  35. Neil Jones

    Better than the Alternative.

    To all you "I wouldn't trust a robot" knee-jerk luddites, I have to say I'd prefer to be on a forecourt full of cars being filled by robots than standing in a freezing gale pumping petrol into my car whilst the bloke using the next pump is yakking away on his mobile phone trying not to let his fag drop out of his mouth whilst he does so.

  36. Justin Case
    Paris Hilton

    @ By Tim Russell

    So, if I get my engine changed from a petrol one to a diesel one and the database hasn't yet been updated, I'm fscked? Or rather my car is.

  37. Senor Beavis

    Obvious problems

    1. The car is moved - cue hilarity as the robot pushes the nozzle straight through the bodywork as if it were soggy paper

    2. The robot carefully and accurately pumps your car full of diesel instead of unleaded

    3. The robot tears off the filler cover, and pulls the filler cap of its little securing cable

    4. The robot "accidentally" pumps 20 litres of unleaded into one's mother-in-law. Cue further hilarity

    5. The robot "accidentally" skewers innocent citizens on their way to buy a Ginsters, while emitting a metallic cackle

    I could go on. Is nobody thinking of the children?

  38. Anonymous Coward


    'twas a play on sounds, sounds a bit like be-kicking, so it looked like the Dutch said something about giving something anatomical a good be-kicking, oh never mind, where's me coat ...

  39. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Get between the lines you carbon unit...

    So I presume that you have to park in an exact spot lest robo-arm tries to unscrew the door and jet squirt the fuel in through the windows?

  40. Geoff Mackenzie


    On a Honda CD250U, it wouldn't have to miss my fuel cap by very far to be sexually assaulting me. And aren't locking fuel caps going to be a little bit of an issue?

  41. Robert Steadman


    ..I've driven two cars (one a Ford, one a Honda) whose petrol filler hatches are opened by a lever under the driver's seat.

  42. Steve

    Sanity check?

    Anyone remember the Candid Camera stunt where they put a 50-gallon drum into the boot of a Mini (original, not BMW) and connected it to the fuel filler, then drove into a garage, and said "fill 'er up"? After 20 gallons or so the pump attendant was down on his knees looking under the car for the leak...

  43. Andy Bright


    Britain (and I'm British) has the worst car crime outside of most warzones and probably worse than many of those.

    It is also the only country I know of that has locks on its petrol caps by default. Yes there are cars in the US that do, but generally you have to buy them and generally people don't.

    That's because even somewhere like Britain the odds of being robbed of your petrol are remote to say the least. And in most countries outside of Europe, petrol just doesn't cost enough to risk ruining a nice shirt when you attempt to siphon.

    So my guess the only people likely to be incinerated by an angry robot are those from our blessed Isle..

  44. Matt

    how slow!!!

    I can do a pitstop in 1minute 30 seconds - tyres onto forecourt, to tyres off... usinf the marvel that is the tescos pay at pump!!! :D

    plus I dont have to live in fear of the robot holding the car door shut whilst it fills my car with petrol through the sunroof!!!

  45. Colonel Panic

    What could possibly go wrong...

    Just make sure you don't yawn. Or get out the car to stretch your legs, drop something and bend over...

  46. Mr Larrington
    Black Helicopters

    24 Hour Garage People

    I only came in for a tube of Pringles

    Sour cream & chives.

    As a member of a motley bunch of cyclists who are wont to frequent petrol stations in the still watches of the night, I should like to assure the trade that I ain't coming anywhere near one of those things on a bicycle.

  47. Astarte

    Robots to the Fore

    Good idea - just needs a bit of logical development. First add a second robot to clean the windows and check the tyres, maybe even toddle off to the shop for you to get a snack. Next step, have a robot to sit in the car and drive wherever necessary, stopping for fuel along the way. It could even be designed to take the car to the garage for servicing etc. You could then sit at home surfing, watching tele or whatever you do at home secure in the knowledge that your car is happily cruising about causing congestion and consuming fuel. What fun! Add a camera and watch it all from your armchair.

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