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How Driverless Cars will Get Refueled Automatically

No matter how many times this is being said, driverless cars have become the coolest invention out there. There are so many ways driverless cars will improve our lifestyle.

Autonomous vehicles are not only going to save people’s time lost in driving and searching for parking but, they are actually going to reduce overall road traffic to just fractions.

But, like any other new invention, driverless cars need lots of training before they can hit the road and replace our traditional cars. And believe me; this is going to happen sooner than you think.

I am pretty sure you know all the impressive things these autonomous vehicles can do. They can talk with each other, can read road signs, can recognize ambulances and other emergency vehicles going on the road, etc.

What if you are sleeping and your driverless car runs out of fuel?

Have you given a thought to what will happen if a driverless car runs out of fuel? How will it get refueled if inside a car?

Well, engineers at Baidu just filed a patent application tackling these concerns.

Driverless cars are going to be smart enough to keep a check on the weather, tire pressure, and fuel as well. Thus, if your self-driving car finds not enough fuel for upcoming journey – from the destination location you enter into map – it will first find the nearest gas station to get it refueled.

Now, that was pretty simple but it doesn’t end here. The next problem is what if there is no human inside a car and it is running out of fuel? Below is Baidu’s plan to solve this:

After detecting insufficient fuel in the tank, the car computer sends a refueling request to nearest gas station along with other identification information – car number, the name of an owner, etc.  This will help the station operator to identify the car later.

What happens next?

After the car reaches the petrol pump, it will join the refueling queue. The fuel tank cap will open automatically and the engine will be turned off until the car is refueled. After getting refueled, the car computer will close fuel cap and continue to its destination.

The patent application by Baidu’s describes how a driverless car will be getting refueled on its own briefly but there is no mention of how payment will be made. Is a driverless car computer making payment also?

Or meanwhile car is on its way to a refueling station, account information of fuel station gets sent to car owner to make payment in advance? These are some of the unanswered questions.

Like these, driverless cars still have miles to travel over hundreds of small problems. Let’s see how research in autonomous vehicles which is in full swing solves these problems.  Many automakers have even revealed their plans to launch fully autonomous cars by the end of next 2 or 3 years. We won’t be waiting for too long to finally own a robotic chauffeur.

Written By

Nitin Balodi works at GreyB Research, a patent search and analytics firm, that combines machine and human intelligence to derive hidden technological and business insights that are rather difficult to find.

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