Given the recent fuel-attendant strikes, this video may well strike a chord with South African motorists. Shot at the recent Petroleum Equipment Institute convention in Atlanta, Georgia, it's a live demonstration of a refuelling robot.
The system is a joint effort between Canadian fuel company Husky Energy and Swedish specialist Fuelmatics, which says that not only does it prevent fuel spillage and reduce fuel vapour release, but it also cuts refuelling time by 30 percent on average compared to when the driver does it.
Since neither Canada nor Sweden has pump attendants, there's no data on how much time we could save in South Africa.
The robot's arm (actually a travelling gantry not unlike that of a car wash) finds and opens the car's fuel filler cap using a suction cup, and then pushes a nozzle past the car's 'capless insert' (actually a spring-loaded flap, common to a lot of recent models) and starts pumping.
When the tank is full, a vacuum-based shutoff system stops the pump, the nozzle is withdrawn and the suction cup gently closes the fuel filler cap.
Since not all vehicles use the same filler-cap mechanism (some need the car's ignition key for access, some a dedicated key and some can only be opened from inside the car) we don't know how well this would work in as diverse a car park as South Africa's, but it might give unionists pause for thought if there was a real possibility their striking members might be replaced by machines!
At least until Eskom's next load-shedding exercise…