Autonomous automobiles aren’t taking over American highways yet, but automation is becoming a bigger part of the driving experience.
A mobile phone app called Shell allows drivers to pay for a fill-up of gasoline from their in-car touchscreens. No debit or credit cards are involved, so the process will work for drivers who forgot their wallets.
The downside? The app will take care of the payment, but somebody — in most states, the driver — still has to get out and manually insert the fuel pump nozzle into the car’s gas tank.
Here’s how it works, assuming the user already has downloaded the Shell app and connected the mobile phone to the car’s network. The car’s touchscreen will guide the user to the nearest service station (a Shell station, of course, considering the app’s name).
After pulling up to the gas pump, the user enters a PIN code and the gas pump’s number. Payment takes place through ApplePay or PayPal, and a receipt is displayed onscreen and sent by email.
Then comes the hard part: Get out of the car, unlatch the fuel pump hose and insert it in the gas tank.
A couple more caveats about the Shell app:
The app works only on iPhones, not on other brands — although developers say they are working on a version for Android Pay.
The app is available only to owners of certain brands and models of cars — the Jaguar F-PACE, XE and XF, plus Land Rovers — and it works only in Britain. Those two car manufacturers and the Shell company, which collaborated on the app, say it will be rolling out in other global markets later this year.