Thursday, February 7, 2008

Automated Pitstops Not So Far Off …

As seen through the rearview mirror - Robotic arm opens the fuel flap, unscrews cap, inserts nozzel, and fuels car ... all without the driver having to leave the car. Image Credit: Rotec Engineering BV

Automated Pitstops Not So Far Off …

Why not?

Why not automate the pitstops of major autoracing series such as the IRL, ChampCar, F1, A1 GP, NASCAR, or American Le Mans?

The Tankpitstop as it appears at a Shell station fueling island. Image Credit: Rotec Engineering BV

In order to gain a racing advantage edge or level the playing field, we have seen the introduction of traction control, rev limiters, run flat tires, carburetor restrictor plates, turbo pop-off valves, custom control steering wheels (with readouts, shifting paddles, adjustment switches, push-to-pass, and more), full on-track RFID to aid in car track position, and etc.

Fans and enthusiasts have long complained that the driver has been taken out of the racing equation.

Here is a technology that, if perfected, could begin the conversion of the work performed by the pit crew team to a robotic process. This technology would allow the autoracing team pitstop to become an automated process as well.

A trip to the gas station of the future may no longer require the driver to leave the car. Tankpitstop the Robot will do it all for you. Video Credit: Copyright 2008 KahawaFilm (

This excerpted from Reuters -

Dutch unveil robot to fill car gas tank
Reporting by Alexandra Hudson, editing by Ralph Boulton - Reuters (EMMELOORD, Netherlands) - Mon Feb 4, 2008 - 11:25am EST

Dutch inventors unveiled on Monday a 75,000 euro ($111,100) car-fuelling robot they say is the first of its kind, working by registering the car on arrival at the filling station and matching it to a database of fuel cap designs and fuel types.

The Tankpitstop robotic arm as it inserts the fueling nozzel for a fill up at a neighborhood Shell station. Image Credit: Rotec Engineering BV

A robotic arm fitted with multiple sensors extends from a regular gas pump, carefully opens the car's flap, unscrews the cap, picks up the fuel nozzle and directs it towards the tank opening, much as a human arm would, and as efficiently.

"I was on a farm and I saw a robotic arm milking a cow. If a robot can do that then why can't it fill a car tank, I thought," said developer and petrol station operator Nico van Staveren. "Drivers needn't get dirty hands or smell of petrol again."

He hopes to introduce the "Tankpitstop" robot in a handful of Dutch stations by the end of the year.
Asked whether he would trust his car to a robotic garage attendant, Jelger De Kroon, filling his black Alfa Romeo at a nearby gas station, said:

"Why not? I guess I could keep my hands free and clean, but I'd hope they have good insurance."
Reference Here>>

Why not level the playing field and automate the work of the racing team pit crew in competitive racing situations?

With this approach, fan and team complaints could be spread out by taking the pit crew out of the equation and implement fully automated and equalized pitstops. Just kidding …

… notes from The EDJE.

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